Outdoors briefly

Possible deer season changes delayed

North Dakota’s 2014 deer seasons will look pretty much the same as in previous years.

More than 800 people attended the eight deer meetings held around the state during the last two weeks in February. Several hundred additional hunters either watched the final meeting broadcast online, or viewed a recorded version. Game and Fish received about 400 written online comments and many other direct emails and phone calls.

“We told people at the meetings that it was very unlikely any major changes would take place this year,” said Game and Fish wildlife chief Randy Kreil. “Aside from some possible adjustments to the total number of deer gun season licenses, we won’t be recommending any changes in season structure or the number of licenses any one deer hunter can have.”

Game and Fish wildlife managers will analyze the hundreds of written and verbal comments received, before deciding whether to pursue changes for 2015. The meetings and public comment process are for the purpose of exploring some ideas for changes in deer license allocation the agency has received in recent years, in response to a declining deer population and fewer available licenses. In 2008, Game and Fish allocated nearly 150,000 licenses and in 2013 the total fell to 59,500.

Game and Fish is open to continuing public input. The general department email address is ndgf@nd.gov, and the phone number is 328-6300.

Game and Fish to host landowner meetings

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department invites landowners to attend upcoming informational sessions about private land conservation program opportunities. The sessions coincide with each of the eight district advisory board meetings scheduled around the state starting the week of March 31-April 4.

Starting at 6 p.m. before each advisory meeting, Game and Fish representatives, along with other partners, will discuss various conservation program options for producers, including what the Private Land Open to Sportsmen program can do for their land. Following a 15-minute presentation, biologists and other conservation partners will be available to discuss options one-on-one with landowners.

Area advisory board meetings are March 31 at Turtle Lake, April 1 at Makoti, and April 8 at Devils Lake. Landowners who are not able to attend any of the sessions but are interested in further program information can call the Game and Fish Bismarck office at 328-6300 or email ndgf@nd.gov.

Whooping crane migration under way

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

Whoopers stand about 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of about 7 feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. Whooping crane sightings should be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office at Lostwood, 848-2466, or Long Lake, 387-4397, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state.

Game and Fish: Report bald eagle nests

The State Game and Fish Department is asking for help in locating bald eagle nests in North Dakota. Game and Fish Department conservation biologist Sandra Johnson said the department is looking for locations of nests with eagles present, not individual eagle sightings.

Historically, Johnson said eagle nests were found along the Missouri River. Now, they have been observed in more than half of the counties in the state, mostly near streams and mid- to large-sized lakes. However, they are also found in unique areas such as shelterbelts surrounded by cropland or pasture.

Johnson estimates the state has around 120 active bald eagle nests, possibly more. Nest observations should be reported to Johnson at 328-6382, or by email at ndgf@nd.gov.

Anglers, hunters should be wary

Anglers and hunters are reminded to be wary of ground conditions when traveling to and from a favorite fishery or hunting location. Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said with fishing good statewide, many anglers are taking advantage of late-season ice and early-season shore fishing.

“However, travel can be difficult this time of year with the soft conditions,” Power said. “We urge anglers to use common sense when conditions are likely to cause problems with township roads and access points.”

Wildlife chief Randy Kreil said spring snow goose and turkey hunters are encouraged to maintain positive landowner/hunter relations. “We ask hunters to be cognizant of these conditions,” Kreil said. “Driving on soft, muddy roads and trails is strongly discouraged.”