Doug Leier: Game and Fish Department tracks 28 bills during the 2017 North Dakota legislative session
I've always tried to inform hunters, anglers and anyone else who appreciates the outdoors about the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's role in the state's legislative arena.
The topic actually comes up quite often, when hunters and anglers might suggest that Game and Fish should change this rule or that regulation.
It's important to remember that rules, regulations and season dates can come about in one of two ways: through state law passed by the legislature or through governor's proclamations that establish hunting, fishing or trapping seasons.
In general, governor's proclamations set things such as daily bag limits, opening and closing dates and method of take. The Game and Fish Department provides its recommendations to the governor, and the governor's signature sets those recommendations into law for that year.
For example, the recent deer proclamation signed by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum contained provisions for 54,500 total deer gun licenses, an application deadline of June 7, and season opening and closing dates of Nov. 10 and Nov. 26. All of those details likely will change for the 2018 deer season.
State law plays a role, however, as legislation passed a long time ago requires all big game hunting seasons to open on a Friday at noon. Game and Fish through proclamation could theoretically have opened the season on Friday, Nov. 3 or Friday, Nov. 17 but could not have opened the deer gun season on Saturday, Nov. 11 or Saturday Nov. 4.
Similarly, a bill that passed through this year's legislative process—SB (Senate Bill) 2318—puts in law that Game and Fish through governor's proclamation can no longer open the pheasant season later than Oct. 12.
Bills of note
Overall during the 2017 legislative session, Game and Fish administrators tracked 28 outdoors-related bills, 11 of which were passed by both Senate and House and signed into law.
Here's a rundown on a few of those approved bills that hunters or anglers might notice in the next year or so.
HB 1150: Allows a resident of North Dakota, who does not want to receive a hunting license issued by lottery, to purchase a bonus point for a fee that is the same as the respective license. Basically this means you will be able to check a box on the 2018 deer (or turkey or pronghorn) application that will say something like "purchase a bonus point," and then you'll have a bonus point added to your total. In the past, the only way to accumulate a bonus point was to not draw your first choice of license in the lottery.
Because most new state laws do not go into effect until Aug. 1, this option for purchasing a bonus point will not be a part of the 2017 deer gun license application process.
HB 1204: Reduces the age from 16 to 12 to qualify for an apprentice hunter validation license; allows youth who turn age 11 before the end of the calendar year to receive a whitetail doe license valid only for the youth hunting season; and spells out that 11 year olds do not need to have passed a hunter education course to hunt in the youth deer season.
SB 2284: A vendor who sells hunting and fishing licenses may add a 3 percent service fee to the total transaction. The service fee does not apply to license purchases or applications made through the Game and Fish Department website. Previously, vendors could charge a 50-cent processing fee on each license sold.
A complete rundown of all the related legislative activity is available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov/legislation.