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Seed mix for wildlife food plots offered for free

Landowners interested in planting wildlife food plots for pheasants can sign up to receive free seed from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department for the 2019 growing season.

Rather than a more traditional corn or sunflower food plot, Game and Fish is offering a seed mix that provides increased plant diversity, including flowering plants from spring through fall, which will attract insects, the major diet component of pheasant chicks. Additionally, the mix will provide needed cover during spring and summer, as well as a winter food source. Other wildlife species also will benefit from this mix.

“In the past, Game and Fish food plots have been mostly tied to a Private Land Open to Sportsmen walking access contract,” said Kevin Kading, Game and Fish private land section leader. “This new promotion does not require a PLOTS contract, but we are asking participating landowners to allow reasonable public access, which could mean simply providing access permission to hunters from time to time, putting up ‘Ask Before You Enter’ signs around the area, or not posting the surrounding land.”

Kading added that landowners participating in this promotion cannot charge a fee for hunting.

The department will provide enough seed to cover  a maximum 5-acre planting at no cost to the landowner.

Landowners who are interested in receiving the food plot seed must sign up on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov by March 31. Seed will be available in April for participants to pick up at Game and Fish offices in Bismarck and Dickinson this first year. In future years, seed for this promotion may be available at other locations in the state.

Game and Fish private land biologists can provide technical assistance on food plot location and site preparation.

Midwinter waterfowl survey results released

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated about 99,000 Canada geese in the state.

Andy Dinges, migratory game bird biologist, said that number likely would have been higher, but the blizzard that hit North Dakota in late December undoubtedly pushed some birds south prior to the survey.

“However, with the warming period and subsequent snow melt that occurred after the storm, wintering conditions remained generally favorable,” Dinges said. “We still ended up holding on to a fair number of Canada geese in the state.”

During the recent survey, an estimated 77,000 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 11,000 were observed on Lake Sakakawea, which still had substantial open water on the lower portion of the lake. In addition, about 9,000 Canada geese were observed on Nelson Lake in Oliver County. Dinges said, after summarizing the numbers, an additional 5,300 mallards were tallied statewide, most of which were recorded on Nelson Lake.

Lake Sakakawea officially iced over on Jan. 12, just days after the aerial survey was completed.

The 10-year average for the midwinter survey in North Dakota is 87,800 Canada geese and 21,600 mallards.

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