Published January 27, 2013, 05:05 AM

OUTDOOR NOTES: Lack of snow hampers N.D. deer surveys

For the second consecutive winter, lack of snow is hampering efforts by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to conduct aerial deer population surveys.

By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald

Lack of snow hampers N.D. deer surveys

For the second consecutive winter, lack of snow is hampering efforts by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to conduct aerial deer population surveys.

Snow is essential to spotting the deer from the air.

According to Bill Jensen, big game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, an airplane last week was able to fly a study area in the Turtle Mountains.

“That’s the only place in the state we can start survey work,” Jensen said. “Crews are ready; they’re just waiting for the snow to pull the plug and go.”

Winter aerial surveys are a key tool Game and Fish uses to sample deer populations and ultimately determine how many deer tags to issue for the next fall’s hunting season. While lack of snow is keeping crews grounded, the scenario’s not all bad.

“Anytime there’s still bare ground in January, that’s a good thing for wildlife,” Jensen said.

— Brad Dokken

DNR appoints Hier as new Crookston wildlife supervisor

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has appointed Ross Hier as Crookston area wildlife supervisor. Hier has been acting area wildlife supervisor since early 2012, when longtime area wildlife manager Terry Wolfe retired.

“We’re excited to have Ross on board as the Crookston area wildlife supervisor,” said John Williams, acting DNR regional wildlife manager in Bemidji. “He brings a wealth of knowledge to this position as an experienced wildlife biologist and manager.”

Hier, who has more than 30 years of experience with the DNR Section of Wildlife, was assistant area wildlife manager in Crookston for the past 23 years.

“I look forward to addressing key management issues in the Crookston area,” Hier said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue working in this area on the many wildlife management projects we have created and planned. I have always felt at home in the northwest habitats and while working in the various communities of the work area.”

Hier earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from the University of Minnesota-St. Paul and a master’s degree in wildlife science from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He and his wife, Leela, reside in Crookston with their two dogs.

— Herald staff report

Angler charged for having 250 fish over his limit

A Carlos, Minn., man faces up to $3,000 in fines and a year in jail after being charged with possessing nearly 250 fish more than the legal limit.

According to a news release from the Minnesota DNR, conservation officer Shane Osborne of Evansville, Minn., met up with Ronald Wayne Johnson, 69, as the fisherman was about to pull his portable fish house off West Spitzer Lake in Otter Tail County.

“I asked how the fishing was, and he said he caught some fish, but it wasn’t that great,” Osborne said.

When asked if he had any fish at home, Johnson said he wasn’t sure.

“He then asked if I thought he had too many fish,” Osborne said. “I said I wouldn’t know that until I counted all of the fish he had. He said I could follow him home and check.”

When Osborne and conservation officer Mitch Lawler of Alexandria, Minn., visited Johnson’s home, they found 22 frozen half-gallon cardboard containers, six plastic bags and several loose fish and fish fillets. The cache totaled 228 sunfish, seven bass and six northern pike more than the legal limit. The fish restitution value is $1,560.

Thanks to an over-limit law that took effect in March 2003, Johnson could lose his fishing license for three years if convicted, in addition to the fines and possible jail time. He is scheduled to appear in Douglas County Court in February.

— Herald staff report

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