Down time doesn’t exist for hunting, fishing and outdoors news and notes, so this week I’ll feature some important news and reminders from the last month or so.
Waterfowl hunters should note the 70th annual North Dakota Game and Fish Department spring breeding duck survey conducted in May showed an index of 2.95 million birds, which was 15 percent lower than last year.
Migratory game bird supervisor Mike Szymanski said even though the index is below 3 million for the first time since 1994, it was still 23 percent above the long-term average and is the 24th highest on record.
Survey results indicated canvasbacks, pintails and redheads increased from their 2016 estimates, while shovelers were unchanged. Mallards were down just slightly and most other ducks were 16-28 percent below last year’s numbers.
In addition to counting breeding ducks each spring, Game and Fish biologists also tally water areas. The 2017 count of temporary and seasonal wetlands was 78 percent higher than last year, but Szymanski said that is misleading as the water index was very low during last year’s survey.
Decent rains after the survey, plus a good snow melt this spring added some water to a lot of wetland basins, but it’s been dry since the survey in much of the state and the if the forecast into mid-July holds true, many smaller wetlands may dry up.
Photo Contest Open
Every year the Game and Fish Department holds a Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest, and this year’s entry period is now open. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 2.
The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as plants/insects. Contest entries are limited to digital files submitted on disk or via email. Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota. More information is available on the agency website at gf.nd.gov.
Guide and Outfitter Test
The next guide and outfitter written examination is at 1 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a hunting guide or outfitter in the state.
In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.
Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, as well as two years as a licensed hunting guide and proof of liability insurance.
Interested individuals are required to preregister by calling the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement office at 328-6604.