North Dakota's pheasant population declined in 2011, a fact confirmed by many hunters in the field. It is hoped that a lack of snow cover this winter, and supplemental feeding in some areas, will be beneficial to pheasant survival.
Dan Sem, SunPrairie Grain and Pheasants For The Future winter feed chairman, says most sportsmen involved in this year's feed program are seeing fewer pheasants. The Pheasants For The Future annual banquet is scheduled for March 9 at Minot's Holiday Inn-Riverside.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN - - Bags containing a blend of pheasant feed were being filled and stacked for distribution at Minot’s SunPrairie Grain Seed Plant last Wednesday. The distribution program is sponsored by Pheasants For The Future, a Minot-based sportsman’s organization
Spring turkey licensing down
The state Game and Fish Department is offering 5,795 wild turkey licenses for the spring hunting season, a decrease of 925 from last year. The decrease is a result of additional winter mortality the last three years and poor production during spring 2011.
Ten of the 22 hunting units have fewer spring licenses than in 2011, while 11 remain the same. Unit 21 (most of Hettinger and Adams counties) is again closed in 2012 due to lack of turkeys in the unit.
Successful spring turkey applicants must purchase a 2012-13 hunting license. In addition to the spring turkey license, hunters must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, and a general game and habitat license. Also, hunters ages 16 and older must possess a small game license, or combination license.
First-time spring turkey hunters ages 15 or younger are eligible to receive one spring license valid for the regular hunting season in a specific unit. To be eligible, the youth hunter must be 15 or younger on opening day of spring turkey season, and have never received a spring turkey license in North Dakota.
Spring turkey applicants can apply at the Game and Fish Department website, at (gf.nd.gov). Applications can also be submitted by calling (800) 406-6409. Forms will also be available by Feb. 1 at most license vendors, county auditors and Game and Fish offices. The deadline for applying is Feb. 15.
Spring turkey licenses are available only to North Dakota residents. The spring turkey season opens April 14 and continues through May 20.
BOW spearfishing, ice fishing classes set
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program has scheduled a one-day darkhouse spearfishing and ice fishing class Feb. 11 at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge in Ward County.
Women interested in attending the class are encouraged to register online at (gf.nd.gov) or contact Nancy Boldt, N.D. Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095 or call 328-6312.
The cost is $50, and preregistration with payment is required. Equipment and snacks will be provided.
Earth Day patch contest open
The state Game and Fish Department's annual Earth Day awareness campaign is accepting entries for design of a 2012 Earth Day patch. North Dakota students ages 6-18 are eligible to participate. The deadline to submit entries is March 15.
The Game and Fish Department will announce a winner in three age categories 6 to 9, 10 to 13, and 14 to 18. Each winner will receive a pair of Nikon 8x40 binoculars. The final patch design will be chosen from the three winners.
The winning design will be used on a patch given to members of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H clubs and any school participating in Earth Day cleanup projects on state-owned or managed lands in North Dakota in April and May.
The patch should incorporate some aspect of Earth Day celebrated April 22 or keeping North Dakota clean. It must be round and three inches in diameter. There is a limit of five colors on the patch, and lettering must be printed. Name, address, age and phone number of the contestant must be clearly printed on the entry form. Only one entry per person is allowed.
Entry and reporting forms are available on the Game and Fish Department's website at (gf.nd.gov) or contact Pat Lothspeich by at 328-6300.
Wetlands payments becoming available
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working together with private land-owners in an effort to conserve habitat and popula- tions of migratory birds. Wetlands throughout the Prairie Pothole Region of North America are being protected through the use of wetland easements. These wetlands are highly productive and support a myriad of wetland and grassland birds, provide habitat for resident wildlife, and extremely important functions and values for people.
Wetland easement payment rates vary between properties, and are based on assessed land values. At the current time, private land-owners in McLean, Ward, and Sheridan Counties are receiving payments for wetland acres in the approximate ranges listed below:
McLean County - $525 to $600 per wetland acre
Ward County - $450 to $525 per wetland acre
Sheridan County - $275 to $350 per wetland acre
There are over 13,000 landowners with wetland easements in North Dakota. A wetland easement is between a private landowner and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and protects wetlands from being drained, burned, leveled, or filled. The wetlands protected by the easement remain in private ownership and can be grazed and hayed without restriction, and farmed when the wetlands are naturally dry. Land management, including hunting and trespass rights, remain with the landowner, and mineral rights are not affected. The wetland easement is a perpetual agreement and the landowner receives a one-time payment.
Wetlands control erosion and help prevent flooding by holding water and releasing it slowly into the ground, therefore reducing run-off into streams and rivers. They also recharge sub-surface water supplies and provide lush hay land for livestock in dry years. Wetlands provide crucial habitat in the form of food, water, and shelter for many types of wildlife including ducks, shorebirds, pheasants, and deer. Protecting wetlands ensures these habitats, wildlife, and benefits to people will be there for future generations of people.
Landowners who are interested in learning more about wetland easements may contact Audubon National Wildlife Refuge at 442-5474 ext. 114 or 116.