Published December 14, 2012, 06:24 AM

Advisory board meetings important

For many hunters and anglers, the close of the regular deer season triggered a change. While late-season upland game along with archery deer or muzzleloader keep the door of opportunity open, but we’ll also hear more chatter about predator hunting and trapping, and the first ice fishing reports begin trickling in.

By: Dour Leier: North Dakota Outdoors, The Jamestown Sun

For many hunters and anglers, the close of the regular deer season triggered a change.

While late-season upland game along with archery deer or muzzleloader keep the door of opportunity open, but we’ll also hear more chatter about predator hunting and trapping, and the first ice fishing reports begin trickling in.

For many employees at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, these past couple of weeks were more about district advisory board meetings, first attending them, and then analyzing all the comments and input gathered.

The state legislature created the Game and Fish Advisory Board several decades ago as sort of a liaison between the Game and Fish Department and the state state’s hunters, anglers and landowners. The state has eight advisory board districts and the governor appoints the advisors from each district.

State law requires advisors to hold two public meetings in their districts each year. These meetings are typically held right after deer season and in early spring.

The Game and Fish director, deputy director and/or division chiefs, plus local staff attend the meetings.

These events bring hunters, trappers, anglers, landowners and Game and Fish into the same room. While North Dakota citizens have many avenues of providing input and to Game and Fish, and the agency has many ways to provide information, sometimes, a good face-to-face discussion is the best method to generate ideas and addressing issues.

Department officials also use the advisory meetings as a forum for introducing initiatives or programs and inviting public discussion.

Here’s a summary of some of the topics that were on the Game and Fish agenda during this fall’s meetings held the week of Nov. 26-30.

r Local deer populations: The common theme around the state was that hunters were generally satisfied with the number of deer they saw this season. While some hunters and landowners reported very low deer numbers in their specific areas, overall observations were an encouraging sign.

r Gratis deer license review process: Every year, Game and Fish game wardens review a random sample of applications for gratis deer licenses, just to make sure that people who apply for them meet the criteria established by the legislature. In 2012, Game and Fish reviewed every one of more than 13,000 gratis applications to determine if there are problem areas. A final report on that effort will be out in the coming months.

r Paddlefish snagging: Game and Fish is starting to look at possible changes for distribution of paddlefish snagging tags, starting in spring 2014. One option is a lottery that would markedly reduce the number of snaggers, but would provide a mechanism to balance supply of paddlefish given the demand of an increasing snagger population.

r Energy development involvement: Cver the past year Game and Fish has started the process of meeting with companies and agencies, and has developed Recommended Management Practices and GIS species maps so companies can see where critical habitat is and consider actions that could reduce habitat disturbance. The major companies have already been contacting Game and Fish for the maps and RMPs.

r Trap tagging: Due to a marked increase in muskrat trapping on public land and in road rights-of-way in recent years, Game and Fish is working with the state furtakers groups to determine if trap tagging (identifying the owner of the trap), on public lands and rights-of-way only, is needed or not.

While the advisory meetings are wrapped up for another few months, the Department’s interest in gathering input on these topics is ongoing. The best way to comment is to send an email to ndgf@nd.gov, or call (701) 328-6300.

Doug Leier is a biologist at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Tags: