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Posted on Sun, Apr. 07, 2002

OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: N.D. tackles
nonresident waterfowl hunters
Game and Fish forms working group to explore options
Herald Staff and Wire Reports

Officials from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department have
formed a new "waterfowl working group" to explore options for
managing the growing number of nonresident waterfowl hunters
coming into the state each fall.

According to Roger Rostvet, deputy Game and Fish director, the
group plans to have a set of options in place for public discussion
and comment at upcoming advisory board meetings in May. Game
and Fish staff will incorporate input from these meetings and produce
recommendations for state lawmakers to consider in formulating
waterfowl hunting seasons for this fall and the future.

A common concern voiced at most of the special Game and Fish
Advisory Board meetings held in early March related to an increasing
number of nonresident waterfowl hunters, Rostvet said. That number
has grown from 5,928 in 1991, to more than 30,000 in 2001.

"We received more than enough feedback to warrant an in-house
analysis of waterfowl-hunting issues," Rostvet said. "We hope to
generate some options that will help sustain quality hunting
opportunities over time."

Last week during a meeting of a special legislative committee that is
studying nonresident hunting issues, three sportsmen's groups - the
United Sportsmen of North Dakota, the state Wildlife Federation and
the North Dakota Sportsmen's Alliance - announced their support for
a cap of 10,500 duck licenses for visiting hunters.

Mike Donahue of Bismarck, a spokesman for United Sportsmen, said
a limit of 7,500 licenses for out-of-state hunters to hunt pheasants
and other upland game also is a good idea. The suggested number
is about half last year's total.

While the governor can set a cap on nonresident waterfowl hunters,
putting a limit on upland and pheasant hunters requires legislative
action.

The Game and Fish working group will look at all available options
and information, Rostvet said, including ideas and mandates that
evolved from previous legislation, licensed waterfowl hunter
numbers, recent duck and goose harvests, results of current
surveys, waterfowl population trends and new concepts suggested
at the recent advisory meetings.

Game and Fish advisory board members have not yet set the dates
and locations for their spring meetings. The department will provide
those details as soon as they are available, Rostvet said.
 
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