Published November 18, 2012, 05:30 AM

OUTDOOR NOTES: Deer tests show no signs of bovine TB...

Bovine tuberculosis appears to have been eradicated from the area in northwest Minnesota where it was found in July 2005... and more.

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Deer tests show no signs of bovine TB

Bovine tuberculosis appears to have been eradicated from the area in northwest Minnesota where it was found in July 2005.

According to Dr. Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, tests of 325 deer this fall in the affected area near Skime, Minn., found no clinical signs of the disease. If lab cultures that take eight weeks confirm the results, this likely will be the last year of testing for the contagious respiratory disease, she said.

Bovine TB initially was discovered in cattle herds near Skime, and subsequent tests found the disease in deer. The DNR since 2005 has sampled nearly 11,000 deer, most of them in northwest Minnesota, with 27 of those deer testing positive.

All of the TB-positive deer came from the Skime area.

To minimize the spread of the disease, the DNR launched an aggressive campaign to reduce deer numbers in the affected area, both through liberal bag limits and ground and aerial sharpshooting campaigns to kill and test deer.

Carstensen said fewer deer were brought to registration stations for testing this fall.

“Cattle are already back, so maybe the urgency to get deer tested isn’t as strong,” Carstensen said. “I think we should be happy we’re through this storm.”

— Brad Dokken

Deer season near GF mostly quiet to date

Deer season in the Grand Forks area and adjacent parts of northeast North Dakota has been mostly quiet for violations, and hunters seem to be doing better than last year, a local game warden said.

Gary Rankin, district game warden for the Game and Fish Department in Larimore, N.D., said he hasn’t heard of any hunters disgusted about not seeing deer.

“I think overall, people are getting deer and having pretty good success,” Rankin said, despite bad weather opening weekend that kept some hunters indoors.

Rankin said he responded to a couple of trespass complaints, and a hunter with a buck tag was cited in Grand Forks County for shooting an antlerless deer shortly after legal shooting hours began Nov. 10.

“He thought he saw antlers, but there were no antlers,” Rankin said. “I think light conditions had a lot to do with that. Even when it’s legal shooting, you can have some poor visibility.”

The Game and Fish Department also is seeking information on a deer shot about 8 p.m. Monday night near Thompson, N.D. Rankin, who investigated, said he suspects two people were involved because they were dragging a deer out of a shelterbelt, got scared off and had to leave the deer in the ditch.

Rankin said he waited at the spot until after midnight but no one returned. The only vehicle report he got was a “dark Ford pickup.”

“There are lots of those to go around,” he said. “Really, we had nothing to go on there. Very little.”

Anyone with information or to report other violations should call the state’s Report All Poachers hotline at (800) 472-2121.

— Brad Dokken

Second ‘Future of Hunting’conference set in Bismarck

The second annual “Future of Hunting” conference is set for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Doublewood Inn in Bismarck.

The North Dakota Wildlife Federation and North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Conference are sponsoring the conference. Since the first conference eight months ago, North Dakota has lost 650,000 acres of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, and 1,400 new oil wells and associated infrastructure have appeared on the landscape.

Mike McEnroe, president of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, said conference organizers hope dialogue from the upcoming session will result in proposals to take before the North Dakota Legislature when it convenes in January.

The loss of habitat will mean declines in wildlife populations, McEnroe said.

“A lot of people have the perception that those deer all go over the next hill,” not realizing that the habitat over the next hill also has been eliminated or compromised, he said. “The habitat will only support so many, so over the hill isn’t really a viable place for any of these animals to move, so the population goes down.”

The conference has a $10 registration fee. To register, call (888) 827-2557 or email NDWF@NDWF.org or Mike McEnroe at memcenroe@midco.net.

— Forum Communications

Did you know?

• The DNR will be issuing 187 surplus hunting licenses and 130 surplus trapping licenses for Minnesota’s late wolf season beginning at noon Monday. Licenses will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at any license outlet or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. The late season begins Saturday and closes Jan. 31, provided late season harvest quotas are not met.

• Minnesota’s muzzleloader season opens Saturday and continues through Dec. 9. North Dakota’s muzzleloader deer season opens at noon Nov. 30 and continues through Dec. 16. Info: mndnr.gov, gf.nd.gov.

• Bowstring Lake in Itasca County of northern Minnesota will be designated as an infested water after the recent discovery of faucet snails. The invasive faucet snails were found in 2008 in nearby Lake Winnibigoshish after an extensive die-off of scaup in 2007. Similar die-offs also were reported on Bowstring and Round lakes, but faucet snails weren’t found in either until the recent discovery on Bowstring.

— Compiled by Brad Dokken

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