Published July 22, 2012, 12:00 AM

OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: N.D. deer tags, Minnesota ATV trail comments, Pronghorn numbers fall etc.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has completed its first deer gun lottery, and more than 5,800 antlerless tags remain in select units.

By: Compiled by Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Limited tags remain after N.D. deer lottery

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has completed its first deer gun lottery, and more than 5,800 antlerless tags remain in select units.

In response to lower deer numbers, Game and Fish slashed the number of tags available for this year’s deer gun season. The department this year offered 65,300 licenses, down from 110,000 last year and the lowest since 1988.

The impact of the license cutback is apparent in units such as 2B and 2C in northeast North Dakota, which don’t have any tags remaining after the first lottery.

Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply for the tags that remain in the select units, and online applications will be available Monday. Game and Fish will mail paper applications in late July, and the deadline for applying is Aug. 22.

Here’s a look at the number of type of antlerless tags that remain:

Unit 2D: 381 any antlerless.

Unit 2F1: 215 any antlerless.

Unit 2K2: 883 any antlerless.

Unit 2L: 507 any antlerless.

Unit 3A2: 421 any antlerless.

Unit 3B3: 205 antlerless whitetail.

Unit 3C: 290 antlerless whitetail.

Unit 3D1: 22 antlerless whitetail.

Unit 3E1: 273 antlerless whitetail.

Unit: 3E2: 75 any antlerless, 276 antlerless whitetail.

Unit 3F1: 342 any antlerless, 523 antlerless whitetail.

Unit 3F2: 423 any antlerless, 662 antlerless whitetail.

Unit 4F: 331 antlerless whitetail.

Info/applications: gf.nd.gov.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

DNR seeks ATV trail funding comments

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on a proposal to authorize state grant-in-aid funding for an approximately 81-mile ATV trail in Beltrami Island State Forest in Lake of the Woods and Roseau counties.

The proposed trail already is open to ATV use and will consist of 29 miles on state forest minimum maintenance road, 46 miles on state forest system road, one mile on township road and five miles on Lake of the Woods county road.

The trail will connect to the towns of Roosevelt and Williams, Minn., and to the Bemis Hill and Con-Con grant-in-aid trails.

In a news release, the DNR said Roseau County will sponsor the proposal and provide trail monitoring, development and maintenance in cooperation with the Roseau-Lake of the Woods Sportsmen’s Club. The trail will be routed primarily through the Beltrami Island State Forest in Oaks and Clear River townships in Roseau County and Myhre Township in Lake of the Woods County.

Bringing the existing trail into the state’s grant-in-aid system would provide additional resources and funding for trail signing, maintenance, monitoring and repair. The trail will be designated for Class 1 and Class 2 ATV use, but will be open to highway-licensed vehicles and nonmotorized uses such as hiking and horseback riding where located on state forest roads. Twenty-seven miles of the trail already are designated for dual off-highway motorcycle and ATV use, and both uses will continue on that portion of the trail.

To see the proposal and a project map, go to mndnr.gov/input/mgmtplans/ohv/plans. The deadline for comments is 4:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

— Minnesota DNR

NDGF tallies slight fall in fishing license sales

BISMARCK — Last year’s historic flooding conditions caused a slight decline in fishing license sales, but it didn’t keep anglers from wetting a line, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said.

According to the department’s annual angler survey, 137,000 resident licenses were sold last year, down 2 percent from 2010-11, but angler participation and effort actually increased.

Greg Power, fisheries chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said the small drop in license sales was no surprise, given the extent of high water problems last year.

“Access was limited on many waters during peak fishing months,” Power said. “Furthermore, residents of Burleigh and Ward counties were hit hard by Missouri and Mouse River flooding, and these two counties historically are by far the highest in terms of license sales.”

According to the survey, 111,000 resident anglers fished open water last year, up 9,000 from the previous year, while 48,000 residents fished through the ice, a jump of 15,000 anglers.

“Access was the key for the big increase in winter anglers,” Power said. “We didn’t have the severe winters like we had the previous three years.”

The number of nonresidents coming to North Dakota to fish has stabilized at 23 percent of total license sales the past decade. Game and Fish sold 41,000 nonresident licenses last year, a decline of 1,000, but the number of nonresidents who actually fished increased from the previous year. In addition, Power said there has been a notable shift toward nonresidents purchasing annual instead of short-term licenses.

Nonresident license sales in the rapidly growing counties of Stark, Williams and Ward nearly doubled the past two years, Game and Fish said.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

N.D. pronghorns continue to decline

North Dakota’s pronghorn population continues to decline, and the Game and Fish Department again this year is recommending the season remain closed.

According to Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Dickinson, N.D., the statewide population estimate has dropped to approximately 3,600 pronghorn, down 20 percent from last year.

Populations are “well below” population objectives in all four management regions, he said.

According to Stillings, three severe winters from 2008 through 2010 and virtually no fawn recruitment from 2009 to 2011 left an aging population with few prime-aged breeding females.

“The result was another poor fawn crop, but there were signs of recruitment with more yearlings being observed this year,” Stillings said.

The recent scenario is similar to the large-scale pronghorn decline in the late 1970s. Three consecutive harsh winters beginning in 1977 prompted Game and Fish to close the season for four years before it finally reopened in 1982.

Game and Fish estimates pronghorn numbers by conducting an aerial survey in late June and early July after young-of-the-year are born and visible. Five airplanes covered more than 11,000 square miles of aerial transects within pronghorn habitat.

Biologists will continue to monitor pronghorn numbers and will reopen the season when the population returns to a level capable of withstanding a harvest.

The 2012 pronghorn season will be closed to both gun and archery hunters. Applicants who have accumulated preference points will maintain their current points.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

Did you know?

- The North Dakota Cooperative Fur Harvester Education program is sponsoring classes in Bismarck, Dickinson and Jamestown for anyone interested in trapping or hunting furbearers. The free 16-hour course is set for 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 14 and 16 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck headquarters. The Dickinson class is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 at the Game and Fish Department’s district office. The course in Jamestown will run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 4 and 6 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Game and Fish Department’s district office. For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife services division at (701) 250-4405.

- A Brainerd, Minn., nonprofit has set up a website in an effort to reduce the number of dogs killed by body-gripping traps. The group, “Dog Lovers 4 Safe Trapping MN,” says the new website offers a place for dog owners to report incidents of dogs being caught in traps along with videos that offer options for reducing dog kills. In a news release, the group says it’s not against trapping and actually supports the heritage, but legislation passed during the most recent session of the Minnesota Legislature “was crafted with no input from dog groups, so the changes are completely ineffective in reducing dog kills.” Info: www.doglovers4safetrappingmn.org.

- A summer festival set for Aug. 17-19 in the Red River community of Lockport, Man., includes a tagged catfish contest that could be worth $20,000 to the angler who buys a ticket and catches the tagged fish. Two “decoy” catfish also will be released and will be worth merchandise prizes if they’re caught by ticket holders. The tickets cost $10 and will be available from select merchants in Lockport and nearby Selkirk, Man., until noon Aug. 19. Info: Dan Sernyk, (204) 668-5831 or by email at anglerdan@mts.net.

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