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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Two North Dakota chub minnow species being considered for federal protection, Jim Job starts work as new Grand Forks outreach biologist etc.

Gary Lund of rural Roseau, Minn., shared this very Christmas-like photo of a sharp-tailed grouse perched on the deck of his house Monday morning next to a Santa bear holiday decoration. Lund feeds the grouse throughout the winter and also has Hungarian partridges that occasionally pop in to sample the sunflower seeds he puts out.1 / 2
Jim Job, North Dakota Game and Fish Department2 / 2

Two chub species may be protected

Two chub minnow species found in North Dakota and a bat species in Minnesota are among five species being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this week.

The sturgeon chub and sicklefin chub, found in North Dakota and 13 other states, and the tricolored bat, found in Minnesota and 37 other states along with Canada, Mexico and Guatemala, are being reviewed for possible protection, along with the Venus flytrap and oblong rocksnail.

The two chub species once thrived in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and several of their tributaries, but dams, diversion, pollution and other human influences have pushed the species to the brink of extinction.

"These rare fish are struggling in the fragmented Missouri River," Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians, said in a statement. "We are thrilled that these fish are one step closer to the protections they need to survive."

In a news release, the service said the tricolored bat is being threatened by white-nose syndrome, which is caused by a fungus that spreads between bats in hibernating colonies. In recent years, the disease has killed millions of bats that hibernate in North America, the service said, including the northern long-eared bat, which was listed as threatened under the ESA in 2015. Conservation efforts are underway to better understand and address white-nose syndrome by the service, other federal agencies, universities and partners. More information is available at whitenosesyndrome.org.

The insect-eating Venus flytrap naturally occurs within a narrow range of longleaf pine habitat in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. It is believed to have been lost from large portions of its historical range due to fire suppression and loss of habitat from agriculture, silviculture and residential and commercial development. Poaching for illegal trade is also believed to be a threat, as well as inadequate existing regulations for protecting the species. The flytrap is legally grown commercially and by hobbyists, but those approved activities do not involve removing plants from the wild, the service said.

-- Herald staff report

Job starts work as new GF outreach biologist

Jim Job now is on the job as the Game and Fish Department's new outreach biologist for northeast North Dakota and works out of his Grand Forks apartment.

A Jamestown, N.D., native, Job, 31, graduated in 2009 from Valley City State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife management. After spending a year with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in Sioux Falls as a game management technician, Job returned to North Dakota in September 2010 as a migratory game bird technician for the Game and Fish Department in Bismarck.

Job became a game warden for the department Jan. 1, 2012 and moved to Devils Lake in August 2012, working as a district game warden there until accepting the outreach biologist job.

He officially started in the position Dec. 1.

In his job as outreach biologist, Job is a liaison, of sorts, between the public and department staff in Bismarck. He's available to answer any questions that might come up from the public and for speaking engagements to schools, sportsmen's clubs and other groups. One of four outreach biologists across the state, Job covers an area from the Red River west to Rugby, N.D., and from the Canadian border south to Hillsboro, N.D.

Job replaces longtime outreach biologist Marty Egeland, who recently took a new position with Game and Fish as the department's Education Section supervisor in Bismarck.

To contact Job, call (701) 317-1842 or email him at jajob@nd.gov.

-- Brad Dokken

NWF commends House refuge bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday to reauthorize a volunteer program that provides support for the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., authored the "Keep America's Refuges Operational Act:"

The National Wildlife Federation was among the groups praising Tuesday's vote in support of H.R. 3979.

"National wildlife refuges are beautiful public lands managed for fish and wildlife, and also great places for people to watch wildlife, fish, hunt and enjoy nature," Mike Leahy, senior manager of public lands and sportsmen policy for the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement. "And volunteers, who lend their expertise and other support, are crucial to helping keep wildlife refuges across the country operating."

-- Herald staff report

DNR announces new special fishing regs

Special fishing regulations will change March 1 on a number of Minnesota waters after an annual public input and review process, the Department of Natural Resources said this week.

"Anglers need to know special regulations because they take precedence over statewide regulations," said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the DNR. "We have special regulations to improve fish populations and make fishing better or more sustainable."

Changes on tap include a less restrictive, 14- to 20-inch protected slot, with one fish over 20 inches allowed, for bass on Balm, Big Bass, South Twin and Deer lakes in Beltrami County. The lakes currently have either a 12- to 20-inch protected slot or a catch-and-release only regulation.

On Itasca, Ozawindib and Mary lakes in Itasca State Park, special regulations on sunfish, black crappies and bass will be standardized to a possession limit of five. The minimum size restriction for crappies on Ozawindib Lake will be dropped, and there will be a 14- to 20-inch protected slot for bass on Mary and Ozawindib lakes, with one longer than 20 inches allowed.

The goal is to simplify regulations for park visitors while maintaining fishing quality, the DNR said.

Special regulations for individual waters are listed in a separate section of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet and at mndnr.gov/fishmn, and also are posted at public accesses.

-- Minnesota DNR

Did you know?

• North Dakota's free ice fishing weekend is Saturday, Dec. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 31. Resident anglers may fish that weekend without a license. All other ice fishing regulations apply. Those interested in darkhouse spearfishing that weekend first must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department online at gf.nd.gov or through any Game and Fish office. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

• The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will host the 2018 World Elk Calling Championships on March 16-17 during the International Sportsmen's Expo in Sandy, Utah. Top prize in the Professional division is $5,000, winners in the Men's and Women's divisions will receive $2,500, the Voice division top prize is $2,000, and $1,000 will be awarded in the Youth (ages 11 to 17) and Pee Wee (10 and younger) divisions.

• Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., have introduced legislation to reauthorize and expand the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture program offers incentives for landowners to open their property for public hunting and fishing access. Known as the Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act of 2017, the bill received praise from 32 sportsmen's groups that favor the federal program being continued in the 2018 Farm Bill.

• The Minnesota DNR is wrapping up the 40th anniversary of its Nongame Wildlife Program by asking supporters for end-of-the-year donations to celebrate the many wildlife success stories the program has helped create, such as the comeback of bald eagles and trumpeter swans. Unlike other DNR programs, the Nongame Wildlife Program doesn't get general tax money and receives no fees from hunting or fishing licenses. It's funded almost entirely by voluntary donations. The tax-deductible donations are matched dollar-for-dollar by the Reinvest in Minnesota license plate fund and leveraged by federal grants and other outside funding sources. Info: mndnr.gov/nongame.

-- compiled by Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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