Hunting

Brian Gehring/Tribune A Jan. 17 workshop in Bismarck will focus on hunting issues in North Dakota. The workshop, which will be at the Ramada Inn, is open to the public and hosted by the North Dakota Wildlife Federat ion.

The North Dakota Wildlife Federation is hosting its fifth Future of Hunting in North Dakota workshop from 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Ramada Inn in Bismarck. The conference is open to the public and all wildlife groups.

The workshop is part of the wildlife federation’s annual three-day conference.

“Participants at the first Future conference in 2012 identified habitat and access as the two biggest issues facing sportsmen and women in our state,” Mike McEnroe, president of the federation, said.

“Now, three years later, those two issues are still front and center.”

Following a conference in December 2013, McEnroe said participants agreed to meet after the November election and the vote on the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks amendment.

“Obviously, the CWWP lost, and sportsmen are faced with few new options to address the habitat and access issues," McEnroe said.

Concerns about the decline in the state's natural resources that have led to a reduction in wildlife populations has been an ongoing issue, he said.

Deer gun permits have dropped the past six years from 149,000 to 48,000 in 2014.

The pheasant harvest, which yielded 474,000 birds in 2013, is down from more than 900,000 several years ago, he said.

Access to public hunting areas also has declined, McEnroe said.

“The Game and Fish Department's Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) acreage declined again, from a high enrollment of over 1.1 million acres to just over 700,000 acres in 2014,” he said.

In addition to the loss of PLOTS acres, he said the amount of CRP, grasslands, trees and shelterbelts also has declined.

“It's tough to see any bright spots in the future,” McEnroe said.

This year’s workshop will focus on recommendations that sportsmen and local wildlife clubs can make to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and to local legislators during this year’s legislative session, he said.

“The conference will also look at projects to recommend to the Outdoor Heritage Fund for restoring wildlife habitats across the state,” he said.

McEnroe said the challenge will be to match the scope and funding of the expiring Conservation Reserve Program of 3.4 million acres and an annual cost of $120 million, with a state OHF program currently funded at $17 million per biennium.

Hunting workshop

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 17

Where: Ramada Inn in Bismarck

Fee: $10

Registration: 8 a.m. until noon 

Lunch: Non-federation members are invited to attend the federation's lunch at noon the day of the workshop. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling the N.D. Wildlife Federation 888-222-2557.

Information: 701-224-8335 or memcenroe@midco.net

Reach reporter Brian Gehring at 701-250-8254 or brian.gehring@bismarcktribune.com.

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