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OUDOORS NOTEBOOK: Park picks elk hunters ... Ciscoes die below dam ... Hunters face license deadlines ... more

Park selects volunteers for elk reduction

The National Park Service has sent letters to 200 potential volunteers who have been selected to assist Theodore Roosevelt National Park with reducing its elk herd this fall and winter.

Volunteers will work on teams with as many as four volunteers led by National Park Service employees.

The teams will use firearms to shoot elk in the park from Oct. 17 to Dec. 23.

The reduction again will focus on cow elk, although some yearling bulls also will be targeted for removal.

Shooting will be restricted to Tuesdays through Thursdays to minimize disruption to normal park operations and weekend visitation.

Val Naylor, park superintendent, said 406 elk were removed from the park, with no injuries or accidents, during last year's reduction.

"We look forward to another successful year," Naylor said in a statement. "Our goal is to have a safe and successful effort in 2011."

Volunteers could apply in teams of two to four, and this year, the park received 399 unique applications from 875 eligible participants.

The park received applications from 33 states, with North Dakota and Minnesota representing the largest portion at 42 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

People who received selection packets have until Aug. 22 to return all of the required paperwork.

If potential volunteers do not return their paperwork or decide not to participate, the park will go through another selection process to fill any vacant slots. Applicants who

aren't notified can assume they were not selected for the elk reduction effort.

All volunteers must certify they are in excellent physical condition and have good shooting skills. When they arrive at the park, they also must pass a shooting proficiency test or they will be disqualified from participating in the program.

-- National Park Service

Cisco die-off seen past Garrison Dam

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department says ciscoes make up the bulk of the fish that have died this summer after being swept through the Garrison Dam into the Missouri River.

Dead fish have been observed along the channel from the dam to as far downstream as south of Bismarck.

According to Dave Fryda, Missouri River System supervisor for Game and Fish, the fish have fallen victim to what is known as "entrainment." Entrainment, which occurs when fish pass through a dam or spillway, can be lethal to some species, Fryda said, either because of the pressure change of moving from deep water to the surface or from the force of expulsion.

"The highest densities of dead fish are right below the dam with numbers decreasing downstream as fish decompose or are eaten by birds and other scavengers," Fryda said.

This year, more fish than usual are being swept through the dam because of high water flows. While numerous species have been found, including walleyes, ciscoes far outnumber other fish, Fryda said. Why that is, he said, is hard to say -- especially because smelt far outnumber ciscoes in the lake.

Both are coldwater species.

Fryda said fisheries biologists aren't too concerned with the losses because most of the ciscoes are from an abundant 2007 hatch and too big to provide much forage for predators in Lake Sakakawea.

The potential loss of smelt is a larger concern, he said

"The smelt population in Lake Sakakawea has increased substantially in recent years and is currently spread throughout much of the reservoir due to abundant coldwater habitat," he said. "While we may lose some smelt through the intake structure, the entire population in Lake Sakakawea is not confined to a small area near the dam. Hopefully, what smelt are lost in the next six weeks will not adversely affect the population."

-- N.D. Game and Fish

Hunting lnfo

- North Dakota deer hunters interested in applying for a first, second, third or fourth license must submit a third lottery application by Wednesday. After the third lottery, Game and Fish will issue any remaining licenses on a first-come, first-served basis. Successful applicants in the first lottery will receive their licenses in mid-August. The regular deer gun season starts at noon Nov. 4 and goes through Nov. 20. Info:

- The online application for North Dakota's 2011 tundra swan license lottery is available on the Game and Fish Department website, and the deadline for applying is Aug. 17. This year's tundra swan season is Oct. 1-Jan. 1, and 2,200 licenses are available. The season is open to residents and nonresidents, but because swans are classified as waterfowl, out-of-state hunters can hunt them only during the period their nonresident waterfowl license is valid. Info:

- North Dakota's fall wild turkey lottery has been held, and more than 1,800 licenses remain in 11 units. Beginning Aug. 17, Game and Fish will issue remaining licenses on a first-come, first-served basis, and hunters can buy a maximum of 15 licenses. Applicants who applied online and were unsuccessful in other units will have a refund issued directly to their credit cards. The season is set for Oct. 8- to Jan. 8. Info:

- A special archery season to reduce deer and turkey numbers in Bismarck city limits has been canceled because water is still covering a large portion of the hunting zone, and recovery efforts are ongoing. The season for antlerless deer had been scheduled for Sept. 2-Jan. 31, and as many as 25 hunters also could have received turkey licenses.

Did you know?

- Duane Holien of Cando, N.D., won the North Dakota State High Power Rifle Championship held recently at the Forks Rifle Club's W.G. Coulter Range west of Grand Forks. Travis Jorgenson of Vergas, Minn., won the service rifle championship, and Tom Reiten of Grand Forks was senior champion. Jorgenson also won the gold medal in the Civilian Marksmanship Program Excellence in Competition match, with Ryan Holien of Ipswich, S.D., taking the silver medal and Kevin Fire of Grand Forks winning the bronze.