The latest update from North Dakota Game and Fish Department director Terry Steinwand includes a brief review as to the challenges from last year and Game and Fish priorities through 2021:
As we collectively bid 2020 good riddance, many of the challenges everyone faced in what will be remembered as an unimaginable year, will certainly continue to test us.
Like in all walks of life, North Dakota Game and Fish personnel were challenged over the last many months to fulfill the department’s mission, which is “to protect, conserve and enhance fish and wildlife populations and their habitats for sustained public consumptive and nonconsumptive use.”
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I can say, without hesitation, that Game and Fish staff met this mission in 2020, despite the long line of obstacles. Many adjustments were made to enable department personnel to continue to work in the field and indoors safely. These changes were made without hesitation, which came as no surprise to me, considering the makeup of those dedicated individuals employed at Game and Fish.
Certainly, it was a team effort, and will remain so as we move on to meet the demands of 2021.
Chronic wasting disease is on the landscape and is here to stay, so that's a continual challenge. We're hoping to step up and do a little bit more than just contain it to where it's at right now. We're never going to get it off the landscape in those areas, but let's contain it to those areas so that it doesn't go elsewhere.
With the discovery of zebra mussels expanding to Lake LaMoure and the James River south, the Game and Fish Department will continue to prioritize testing on new waters for this invasive mussel and other aquatic nuisance species. Our enforcement division works hard to educate boaters and anglers with the importance of adhering to the regulations. Ben Holen, out of our Jamestown office, is our aquatic nuisance species coordinator, and he is doing just a tremendous job. And even during the pandemic, they're out there, they're inspecting boats, they're sampling lakes.
The last one is R3 – recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. North Dakota has kind of resisted the decline in hunting and fishing that we've seen nationwide. We don't want to wait to see if that happens in North Dakota, so we've hired an individual, Cayla Bendel, to coordinate that. But it's not just Cayla’s job, it's everybody in the department's job. We have to work together. And actually, the public, if you're interested in hunting and fishing, we're going to ask you to help out to some extent, too.
We're not asking for time or money; we're asking you to buy into the philosophy that we want to do this for future generations. I have kids and grandkids that I hope will have even a semblance of the opportunities that I've had for hunting and fishing in North Dakota.
Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.