Outdoors briefly

SAH accepting deer, goose meat

North Dakota’s Sportsmen Against Hunger Program is again accepting donations of deer at select processors across the state. In addition, the program is also able to accept light goose breast meat (snow, blue and Ross’ geese) for the first time this fall.

Canada goose meat, while accepted during the early goose season, is not eligible for donation during the regular waterfowl season.

Sportsmen Against Hunger is a program administered by the North Dakota Community Action Partnership, a nonprofit agency that serves low-income families across the state. SAH raises funds to pay for processing of donated deer and geese, and coordinates distribution of ground venison and goose meat to food pantries around the state.

The State Game and Fish Department strongly supports the SAH program and encourages hunters to consider donating deer, according to agency director Terry Steinwand. The program can accept whole deer only, which must be processed at a participating licensed meat processor.

According to NDCAP Executive Director Andrea Olson, the SAH program has sufficient funding available to process deer and geese this fall.

“The meat that is generated is so appreciated by the families who receive it,” Olson said. “They are all so grateful for access to a nutritious source of protein; something that is often expensive and otherwise difficult for them to obtain.”

A list of participating processors and more information is available on the Community Action website at (capnd.org).

Participating processors will not accept deer shot in the hind quarters, and donated deer will be processed individually or only with other donated deer.

Hunters can clean their light geese at home prior to delivery to a processor, but breast meat brought from home without a wing or head attached to the meat, must be accompanied by written information that includes the hunter’s name, address, signature, hunting license number, date taken, and species and number taken.

Hunters may also deliver light geese directly from the field to a processor, but identification must remain attached to the bird until in possession of the processor.

Hunters interested in donating light geese are encouraged to call processors to have a clear understanding of how goose breasts will be accepted.

Few dead deer sightings reported

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department received only a few reports from opening weekend pheasant hunters who found dead deer in southwestern North Dakota.

Game and Fish personnel have been monitoring the deer population in the southwest since late August, when the first reports of dead deer, attributed to epizootic hemorrhagic disease, came in from Bowman, Grant and Burleigh counties.

Isolated deer deaths continued into mid-September, prompting the department to suspend the sale of slightly more than 1,000 antlerless deer licenses that were still available in units 3F1, 3F2 and 4F in the southwestern part of the state.

Dan Grove, Game and Fish wildlife veterinarian, said information received from pheasant hunters is helpful in evaluating the magnitude of an EHD situation.

“The area of the state where EHD traditionally occurs is covered with hunters,” Grove said. “With only a minimal number of dead deer sightings, combined with recent overnight low temperatures below freezing, it appears the worst of the EHD outbreak may be behind us.”

EHD is a naturally occurring virus that is spread by a biting midge. It is almost always fatal to infected white-tailed deer, and is most noticeable in western North Dakota when high whitetail populations combine with a hot and humid late summer and early fall. Most deer that die from this are infected before the first hard frost, which kills the biting midges that spread the disease. Mule deer do not usually die from the disease.

Whooping cranes observed in area

Whooping cranes were observed this past week north of Minot near Kenmare. Recent reports indicate most of the whooping crane population is still north of the Canadian border and will soon migrate through North Dakota. Hunters in the vicinity of the Upper Souris and Des Lacs national wildlife refuges should be aware of the potential for whooping cranes and snow geese in the same area.

Whoopers, an endangered species, stand about 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of about 7 feet from tip to tip. Like snow geese, they are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of two or three birds, but are occasionally in slightly larger flocks.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location and the birds’ activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office at Lostwood, 848-2722, or Long Lake, 387-4397, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s main office in Bismarck at 328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state.

Wahpeton Park Board recognized

The State Game and Fish Department recently honored the Wahpeton Park Board for its ongoing efforts to develop and improve public boating and fishing facilities at numerous lakes, rivers and recreation sites in Richland County.

Each year the Department’s fisheries division presents a certificate of appreciation to an organization that has a history of accomplishments as a cooperating partner in local fisheries projects. Fisheries development supervisor Bob Frohlich said the park board is a perfect example of how a willing entity can make a difference for local fisheries.

“The Wahpeton Park Board and its members have helped with construction and installation of boat ramps, courtesy docks, toilets, fishing piers, fishing access roads and parking areas at Mooreton Pond, Brushvale Landing and numerous sites on the Red River in the immediate Wahpeton area,” Frohlich added. “They have also assumed primary responsibility for maintaining these facilities after construction, and the park board does an outstanding job in performing this task.”