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- Bighorn Sheep Population is Healthy

- Deer Hunters: Find Your License

- Department Taking Orders for 2009 OUTDOORS Calendar

Bighorn Sheep Population is Healthy

The bighorn sheep population in North Dakota's badlands is thriving, according to Brett Wiedmann, big game biologist for the state Game and Fish Department.

An August-September survey in western North Dakota showed 316 sheep. "We count all sheep during the summer survey, and numbers signify our population is in excellent shape," Wiedmann said. "Including the number of bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park our total reaches 350 animals."

Survey results revealed 93 rams, 162 ewes and 61 lambs, for a 9 percent increase in the total number observed from 2007. "We counted 232 sheep in the northern badlands and 84 in the southern badlands," Wiedmann said. "We have more work to do in the south to get to where we were before the die-off in the late 1990s, which was 130 sheep."

The goal for the southern badlands is 125 sheep. The 84 counted this summer is 11 percent higher than last year, which means the sheep population is moving in the right direction. "We can't compare the numbers from the two areas because the 11 herds in the northern badlands have a lot more habitat and better conditions than the five herds that occupy the southern badlands," Wiedmann said.

The 61 lambs was a record, surpassing the mark of 60 in 2005. "The lambs were big and healthy, and are already 3-4 months old, which means they are mature enough to have a really good chance of survival," Wiedmann said, while mentioning predators and other dangers tempt the fate of newly-born lambs.

While all the sheep look healthy, Wiedmann was especially impressed with the herd transplanted from Montana. "They are big, robust critters," he added. "We were confident they would do well, and they continue to surpass our expectations."

The herd is the largest in the state, Wiedmann said, and the 70-80 percent lamb recruitment success is phenomenal. "We might have to pull some out this winter and distribute them to the southern badlands," he said.

The annual summer bighorn sheep survey begins in early August and takes about 45 days to complete. "The most cost effective and efficient way to obtain the best data is the method we use," Wiedmann said. "We radio-collared two to three sheep in each herd, locate them from an airplane, and then hike into each herd and count them by using a spotting scope and binoculars. It is very labor intensive."

North Dakota's bighorn sheep hunting season opens Oct. 10 and continues through Oct. 26. Six licenses were issued.

Deer Hunters: Find Your License

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds deer hunters that now is a good time to find your deer license and check it for accuracy. Carrie Whitney, licensing supervisor, said if you wait until the last minute and either can't find it or notice a discrepancy, you might not have your license for opening day.

"Every year we get last-minute inquiries from hunters who can't find their licenses," Whitney said. "When it happens on opening day, it's difficult to get a replacement license quickly."

Deer hunters in need of a replacement license must print out a duplicate (replacement) license application from the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or call (701) 328-6300 to have an application mailed or faxed.

The form must be completely filled out and notarized, and sent back in to the department with a fee. The application will be processed the day it is received at the office, and the license will be mailed out the next business day. "A deer license isn't issued to the hunter the same day the application is received," Whitney said.

Another reason to find your license now is to check it for accuracy. Double-check the license to make sure the unit, species and deer sex are what you intended.

North Dakota's deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 7.

Department Taking Orders for 2009 OUTDOORS Calendars

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking orders for its North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar, the official source for all hunting season and application dates for 2009. Along with outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, it also includes sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

To order, send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Be sure to include a three-line return address with your order, or the post office may not deliver our return mailing.

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine's December issue, so current subscribers will automatically receive it in the mail.
 
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