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U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Date: Sept. 24, 2003

DRY CONDITIONS MAY HAMPER WATERFOWL OPENER, SAYS USFWS

North Dakota waterfowl hunters hoping for a successful opening weekend will have to do some scouting if they hope to do any shooting when the season kicks off for state residents on Saturday. A lack of rain across much of the state has dried up many small wetlands and lowered the larger ones. A mid-week survey of managers and biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says many of the ducks have moved to large wetlands.

Some of the best hunting may be in the Devils Lake area. Aaron Mize of the Devils Lake Wetland Management District says he is seeing good numbers of ducks and geese in many areas. He says snow geese are starting to move into the Lake Alice area, which also has good populations of Canada geese, ducks and sandhill cranes. Mize also points to the Lakota area as well as Ramsey and southern Towner counties having good potential for hunters.

J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge at Upham is holding quite a few ducks, but the nearby small wetlands are dry. Project leader Bob Howard predicts a slow opening weekend, and suggests hunters try field shooting. On the positive side, Howard says huntable numbers of sandhill cranes are being seen, and some small flocks of migrant Canada geese are joining the local populations.

Very few birds are reported on Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge near Kenmare. Refuge manager Dan Severson estimates 150 snow geese, 400 Canada geese and a mixture of about 2,000 ducks are occupying the southern part of the refuge. He says he expected more ducks on the refuge, but notes it?s a very early opener.

Water conditions are very poor in the northwestern corner of North Dakota. Tim Kessler at the Crosby Wetland Management District reports only the larger wetlands have water, and he has not seen any good concentrations of waterfowl.

Conditions in Mountrail County are the driest in several years. Kenny MacDonald of the Lostwood Wetland Management District says even some large bodies of water have dried up. He adds that waterfowl hunters may have to do a lot of driving to find birds.

At Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Minot, project leader Dean Knauer estimated 1,000 Canada geese and about 5,000 ducks early this week

At mid- week, Audubon National Wildlife Refuge near Coleharbor was holding about 5,000 Canada geese, with another 2,000 nearby. Project leader Mike McEnroe believes the same area has up to 4,000 ducks? mostly mallards. In the surrounding areas of McLean, Sheridan and southern Ward counties, McEnroe forecasts success for hunters who do some advance scouting. He observed lots of blue-winged teal and gadwalls, and quite a few resident Canada geese. He notes that many of the ducks are poorly colored out, making identification difficult.

Good numbers of ducks can be found on some wetlands in Burleigh, Kidder and Emmons counties. Biologist Gregg Knutsen of Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge says the best water conditions are in northern Burleigh and Kidder counties. Early in the week, the Refuge was holding several hundred Canada geese and about 3,000 sandhill cranes.

Most seasonal and temporary wetlands in Stutsman and Wells counties have dried up, but local duck production was good this year. Matt Filsinger of the Chase Lake Prairie Project says hunters shouldn?t give up, noting ?good hunts are possible; they just won?t be easy.?

About 500 Canada geese and 2,500 ducks were using Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge early this week. Biologist Paulette Scherr says many small wetlands in the area are dry, but some of those holding water have several hundred ducks? mostly gadwall, mallards and shovelers, with a few green-winged teal.

Even the large wetlands in the Kulm Wetland Management District are drying up. Project leader Bob Vanden Berge says the ducks are concentrated on the few remaining wetlands with water. He believes there is fair potential for successful hunting, but scouting will be mandatory.

Northern Griggs and Steele counties may offer some good hunting opportunities. Kory Richardson of the Valley City Wetland Management District says most of the area has had another dry year, but duck numbers are fair and there are good numbers of resident Canada geese.

Water conditions are poor in southeastern North Dakota. Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge project leader Doug Staller says the area is 50 percent drier than last year, and only the larger wetlands have water.

Hunters are reminded that the lack of water will likely concentrate hunters as well as waterfowl.
Other tips: hunters must register with the Harvest Information Program, known as HIP, by calling 888-634-4798; non-resident hunters cannot hunt waterfowl in North Dakota until October 4 and can?t hunt any game on state-controlled lands from October 11-17; extended shooting hours for Canada geese and white-fronted geese? but not snow geese? on Wednesdays and Saturdays are in effect for the entire season; and the daily limit of six ducks may include one pintail and one canvasback through November 4, but the daily bag limit of six ducks may include no more than five mallards and only two of those can be female.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages 1,100 waterfowl production areas in North Dakota. These public areas are open to hunting and are posted with the familiar green and white WPA sign. Funds to acquire them come from Federal Duck Stamp sales to the nation?s waterfowl hunters.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, log on to www.fws.gov
 

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Yep lets blast all the sitting ducks & in the few wet areas left :roll: & tell the hoards of shooters to come, where to go :******: I wonder how long until we give out GPS locations where a duck was spotted :eek:

I have been biting my tongue - But most of the ducks have not even flown yet from the molt :roll:

This earlier stuff is STUPID !!! & a step in the wrong direction .....sorry

I'm about fed up with all things waterfowl hunting :******:

At least until Oct 13th (sask. here I come) :roll: :D at least they are in such huge supply (up there) they need killing - but just watch, a crash will come & take out alot of the remaing ducks with them :eyeroll: - that should solve alot of problems :eyeroll:

Well I may shoot my Val Pal a bird or two to train with ??? & I may go sharptail hunting or walleye fishing :eyeroll:
 

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Sorry Ken - nothing against you, or the report - just another rant that has been building up & had to get out - I feel better now ................not really :roll: :wink:
 

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Non taken...I'm just glad I don't plan on hunting the DL area.With this on the wires we better enjoy that first week.
 
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