Published September 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Sportsmen Against Hunger seeks deer donations, Sakakawea fish populations doing well etc.

The early doe season in units 2C and 2D of northeastern North Dakota began Friday and continues through Thursday, and the early season in units 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 4F of southwestern North Dakota begins Oct. 2 and continues through Oct. 9.

By: Compiled by Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Program seeks deer donations: With an early doe season now under way in parts of northeastern North Dakota and high deer populations in many parts of the state, the Game and Fish Department is urging hunters to consider donating a deer to the Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

Sportsmen Against Hunger is a charitable program that raises money for processing donated deer and coordinates distribution of ground venison to food pantries in North Dakota. The North Dakota Community Action Partnership, a nonprofit agency that serves low-income families across the state, administers the program.

The early season in units 2C and 2D of northeastern North Dakota began Friday and continues through Thursday, and the early season in units 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2 and 4F of southwestern North Dakota begins Oct. 2 and continues through Oct. 9.

All of the units have antlerless whitetail licenses still available.

“These special herd reduction seasons in the northeast and southwest are great opportunities for North Dakota deer hunters,” Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand said. “We strongly support the donation program and hope that deer hunters will do the same, not only during the early seasons, but the regular deer gun, archery and muzzleloader seasons.”

In 2008, the program only accepted bow-killed deer because of concerns that lead particles from bullets remained in some processed venison. But based on a lead-blood level study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and subsequent guidelines recommended by the North Dakota Department of Health, the program will take firearms-killed deer this year.

“We have enough funding for the program to grow this year,” said Ann Pollert, executive director of the North Dakota Community Action Program. “Our food pantries tell us they have a demand for all the venison we can provide them.”

A list of venison donation processing sites is available at www.capnd.org.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

Sakakawea fish populations: Recently completed test netting of young fish indicates that fish populations on Lake Sakakawea are on the rebound, as water levels have risen after years of drought in the Missouri River basin.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologist Dave Fryda said early spawners such as northern pike and yellow perch are doing “exceptional.”

Fryda said pike reproduction on the lake this year is the second-highest ever documented, with solid data going back nearly 40 years. He said perch reproduction is the best in at least 12 years.

A large number of saugers also turned up in nets this fall for the second straight year, Fryda said.

If Lake Sakakawea can maintain good water levels through next spring, Fryda said walleyes have a good chance of having a successful spawn. High water also has led to a significant increase in baitfish, which improves the odds that Game and Fish might resume stocking walleyes in the lake next year.

— Associated Press

DU supports NAWCA bill: Ducks Unlimited on Tuesday testified before a congressional subcommittee urging the expansion of the popular North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Scott Sutherland, director of DU’s Governmental Affairs office, presented testimony to the House Resources Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, supporting a bill from Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va., that would encourage increased funding from Canadian sources for the program.

“NAWCA continues to be one of the great success stories for conservation, and by enhancing the program to allow investment from Canadian sources, that success can continue,” Sutherland said. “Allowing Canadian funds to match the federal grants will help continue NAWCA projects to be matched by an average of $2 for every dollar from the U.S. government.”

In the 20 years of the program, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,600 projects that have conserved more than 25 million acres of habitat across North America.

Projects require at least a 1:1 match for each dollar from the federal government but often attract two to three times that amount from conservationists, local governments and others.

More than $1 billion in federal grants have been allocated for NAWCA projects — a figure that has leveraged an additional $3 billion from matching and nonmatching funds.

— Ducks Unlimited

Youth pheasant event: The Lake Region Sportsmen’s Club in Devils Lake will release adult banded rooster pheasants Friday night in advance of the North Dakota youth pheasant season Saturday and Oct. 4. According to Larry Weigel of the Lake Region Sportsmen’s Club, the group will release 175 adult banded birds. Any youth shooting a banded bird can bring the band to the Pheasants Forever banquet to be entered into a drawing for a youth shotgun. The club will release pheasants at two sites Friday evening, Weigel said, both within 10 miles of Devils Lake.

— Brad Dokken

Climate bill letter: Five sportsmen and conservation groups from North Dakota have joined more than 600 organizations from across the country in calling on the U.S. Senate to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dedicate significant funding to helping wildlife and natural resources threatened by climate change.

“North Dakota’s natural resources not only provide us with hunting and fishing opportunities, they also provide flood protection and ensure clean water, all of which keep our communities healthy, our families happy and our businesses thriving,” said Jennifer Kross, North Dakota Wildlife Federation board member. “As a lifelong conservationist, I’m proud to be part of such a diverse coalition of interests rallying around a common cause.”

Other North Dakota groups signing the letter were Audubon Dakota, the Badlands Conservation Alliance, the Central Mountains and Plains Section of The Wildlife Society and the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust.

The groups agree the Senate will need to dedicate about 5 percent of the total allowances from a climate bill toward safeguarding natural resources from the negative impacts of climate change.

— Herald staff report

Did you know?

- National Wildlife Refuge Week is Oct. 12-18.

- The Walmart FLW Walleye Tour Championship begins Wednesday on the Missouri River near Bismarck and continues through Oct. 3. The championship, featuring 108 competitors from 16 states and Canada, will award as much as $105,000 cash to the winning professional and as much as $14,000 cash to the winning co-angler. The Hazelton boat ramp about 30 miles southeast of Bismarck will host daily takeoffs at 8 a.m., with weigh-ins beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Bismarck Civic Center. Info: FLWOutdoors.com.

- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding hunters that only firewood purchased at a state park or from a DNR-approved vendor may be brought onto any DNR-administered lands. For a list of approved firewood vendors, visit the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov.

- Pack your life jacket. That’s the message from the DNR with the state’s waterfowl season now underway. Besides being required for everyone in a watercraft, life jackets also can save lives, the DNR said. Twelve hunters have drowned in boating accidents since Minnesota first required life jackets on duck boats more than 20 years ago. Before that, three to six hunters died in duck boat accidents nearly every season, the DNR said.

- The DNR will offer 26 parcels of state land for sale at oral auction Oct. 21 at the agency’s central office headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul. Registration begins at 9:45 a.m., and the auction will start at 10 a.m. The auction includes parcels in Becker, Beltrami, Hubbard and Red Lake counties in northwestern Minnesota. Info: mndnr.gov.

- The communities of Middle River, Minn., and Thief River Falls are hosting the Third Annual Call of the Goose Familiarization Tour from Thursday through Oct. 4. The event for media across the region is being held in conjunction with the 35th Annual Middle River Goose Fest to promote the area’s waterfowl hunting opportunities.

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