Outdoors briefly

Wildflower Walk

at Audubon Refuge

A Wildflower Walk will be held on Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge.

A casual walk along the nature trail will provide opportunities for viewing and identifying the beautiful summer wildflower blooms. Approximately 15 species will be identified, with edible and medicinal uses discussed. Following the walk, join in to complete a wildflower nature craft.

Limited spots are available; pre-registration is required by calling 442-5474, Ext. 110. Participants should meet at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, which is located 3 miles north of Coleharbor on Highway 83 and one mile east.

Spring duck breeding numbers tallied

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey showed an index of 3.9 million birds, down 17 percent from last year but still 73 percent above the long-term average (1948-2012).

Mike Szymanski, waterfowl biologist, said blue-winged teal and gadwall saw the largest decline. “Blue-wings are coming off near-record highs, so it’s not unexpected to see the drop,” Szymanski said.

Blue-winged teal were down 38 percent and gadwall 28 percent. However, they are both well above the long-term average – blue-winged teal 42 percent and gadwall 59 percent.

“Duck numbers are still really good, well above long-term averages,” Szymanski said, while mentioning that total duck numbers for 2013 are similar to estimates over the past decade.

Scaup showed a notable increase from last year, while mallards, pintails, shovelers and canvasback were essentially unchanged.

The loss of CRP acres was evident during the survey, Szymanski said, as massive stretches of land conversion to cropland were obvious.

“The loss of grass will hurt production of ducks and other grassland nesting birds,” he added. “However, the recent overly wet conditions will also help bridge the gap a little bit for ducks, but we won’t really know how the ducks did until we conduct the July brood survey.”

Game Warden exam set for July 15

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test is at 10 a.m. on July 15, at the department’s main office in Bismarck.

Applicants must register to take the exam by submitting a letter of intent to chief game warden Robert Timian, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Letters of intent must be submitted before 5 p.m., July 12.

Summer safety on the water stressed

Failure to wear a personal floatation device is the main reason people lose their lives in boating accidents.

The National Safe Boating Council warns boaters that most drowning victims had a life jacket available, but were not wearing it when they entered the water. “It is difficult to put a life jacket on once you are already in the water,” said Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “The single most important part of safety on the water is wearing a personal flotation device.”

North Dakota law requires all children ages 10 and younger to wear a personal flotation device while in boats of less than 27 feet in length. The law also requires all personal watercraft users to wear a life jacket, Boldt said, as well as anyone towed on skis, tubes, boards or other similar devices.

North Dakota boaters also are reminded that marine VHF radios are an important part of boat safety that should not be improperly used by operators. Boldt said they are intended for boat operators who are in distress and facing an emergency situation.