LANSFORD – Moose, moose and more moose. Maybe too many moose. That was the message delivered by attendees at a North Dakota Game and Fish Department District 2 Advisory Board meeting in the far northern North Dakota town of Lansford on Monday evening.
"There's way too many moose. They are in our yards and my wife can't walk on the roads," said a person attending the meeting in the town that is 30 miles north of Minot and approaching the Canadian border.
Another area resident suggested that local hunters be given a preference for moose tags rather than allowing out-of-area hunters to hunt. Moose tags are limited to one per lifetime in North Dakota. They are one of the most popular tags sought after by big game hunters in the state and are difficult to draw.
Game and Fish Deputy Director Scott Peterson, who led a contingent of department employees to the meeting, explained that favoring applicants from a certain area for limited big game tags would create problems statewide. Peterson said, in the interest of equality, it would mean that people from outside of traditional mule deer or pronghorn haunts would have their chances at drawing a tag greatly reduced.
As for the moose population in the Lansford area, it mirrors what has been happening in a wide region of the state, he said.
"Moose are fantastically prolific animals. Moose in North Dakota do very well," said Casey Anderson, assistant chief of the department’s wildlife division. "From what we are seeing we'll probably have more tags next year."
Also at the meeting, Peterson outlined a proposal that has been urged by many sportsmen for the past few years – a method of speeding up the application process for deer hunters. The current system is time consuming and makes it difficult for some hunters to plan hunt time or vacation time without knowing if they'll actually have a deer license.
"We are looking at a change in our lottery system to cut down on the time it takes to process applications. We are proposing that all lottery participants do so online. That will allow us to get the results out much quicker," Peterson told the gathering.
Currently almost 90 percent of deer license applicants utilize the online option, but Peterson estimated that there are still about 8,000 people a year who submit paper applications. Those applications must be typed into a computer, a time-consuming process that also can result in the occasional typographical error that can void an application.
"The governor (Doug Burgum) wants us to utilize technology to the fullest," remarked Peterson. "We can't really say we've been doing that."
The issue of big game tags allocated for fundraising projects was discussed. The most recent legislative session passed a bill allowing distribution of big game tags for such purposes but Game and Fish says they will be proposing a limit on the number of tags issued.
"They are all good causes, but where does it end?" asked Peterson.
Under consideration by Game and Fish is a limit of 10 white-tailed deer tags, two tags for pronghorn, elk and moose to be available to those agencies who wish to be granted tags for fundraising or other purposes. Organizations already receiving such tags would still receive them under a "grandfather" status. The proposal would have to be approved by the next Legislature.