Game & Fish Summer Staff Meeting

January 28, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

Twice a year, in August and December, North Dakota Game and Fish Department staff from Bowman to Cavalier and Williston to Wyndmere gather to learn, teach and simply converse about opportunities and problems relevant to managing the state’s natural resources.

The topics are a matrix of issues, studies and current work assignments from which all staff learn. While a fisheries biologist in Jamestown may not spend any work time on elk in the badlands, the reality is that a basic knowledge of most issues can usually help answer questions generated by hunters and anglers.

Here’s a rundown of some of the subjects that warranted discussion at the most recent Game and Fish staff meeting.

Elk management in and around Theodore Roosevelt National Park

As a result of a recent meeting between Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and North Dakota Governor John Hoeven, the National Park Service decided that the use of qualified volunteers is an option that will be fully evaluated. Originally, the park service did not include qualified public volunteers as one of the final alternatives for elk management within the park.

Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand has sent a letter to the National Park Service offering to reengage in discussions concerning Theodore Roosevelt National Park alternatives, specifically those options concerning qualified public volunteers.

Grain overload moose mortality

Wildlife veterinarian Erika Butler presented findings related to moose dying from grain overload. Moose can die from eating too much grain, but instances in North Dakota suggest this phenomenon doesn’t occur in summer, but rather in fall after most crops have been harvested. This suggests that moose are likely feeding on open piles of grain placed to feed or bait deer for hunting purposes.

Carp on the verge of entering Devils Lake

The carp threat is a serious issue that needs immediate action to avoid a near future disaster to the Devils Lake fishery

The carp threat is a serious issue that needs immediate action to avoid a near future disaster to the Devils Lake fishery

Aquatic nuisance species coordinator Lynn Schlueter spoke of current efforts to prevent carp from entering into the Devils Lake basin via Snowflake Creek, which is part of the Red/Pembina river drainage.

Up until the first week in August, adding the chemical rotenone to Snowflake Creek to kill carp had been effective. However, a heavy rain event in the region south of Langdon raised water levels to a point where carp could apparently swim around the chemical barrier and cross the basin divide, as young-of-the-year carp were discovered on the Devils Lake basin side.

While still 50 miles from the waters of Devils Lake itself, this development is an urgent concern for the Game and Fish Department. First, agency biologists will work to eliminate all carp that crossed the divide. Second, agency administrators will accelerate efforts to get a permanent berm built that will prevent mixing of water between the Devils Lake and Red River basins.

Aquatic nuisance species

Fisheries division chief Greg Power summarized the Game and Fish Department’s plans to implement rules designed to prevent movement of water from lake to lake and possible transfer of aquatic nuisance species. The two main regulation changes would require removal of all vegetation from watercrafts before moving from a body of water, and require draining of water from livewells before transporting a watercraft

Meso-carnivore study

Frostburg State researcher Tom Serfass provided information on a meso-carnivore study taking place in North Dakota. Essentially we are learning more about a few under- the-radar furbearers including otters, pine martens and fishers. This research has documented that otters have taken up residence along the Red and other tributaries, while fishers and martens are starting to inhabit some wooded areas such as the Turtle Mountains.


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