Conference to focus on future of hunting
"The Future of Hunting in North Dakota" will be the focus of a conference set for March 30-31 at the Doublewood Inn in Bismarck. According to Mike McEnroe of Bismarck, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manager and president of the North Da...
"The Future of Hunting in North Dakota" will be the focus of a conference set for March 30-31 at the Doublewood Inn in Bismarck.
According to Mike McEnroe of Bismarck, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manager and president of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, the idea for the conference came up during the 2011 legislative session. Representatives of the state's four wildlife lobbying organizations meet weekly during the legislative session, McEnroe said, and during one of their meetings, it became apparent they represented only about 2,400 people out of more than 200,000 hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts in the state.
The conference is sponsored by the North Dakota Wildlife Federation and the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society in coordination with the state Game and Fish Department.
"Frankly, the sportsmen aren't being represented or being heard on legislative issues that deal with game and fish and the outdoors," McEnroe said. "We thought, 'let's have this conference and alert the wildlife clubs and sportsmen's groups in the state to what's happening.'"
What's happening is significant, McEnroe said, and includes decreasing enrollment of private land in the Conservation Reserve Program, the state's booming energy industry and the increase of tile drainage and removal of shelterbelts to put more land into farm production.
The resulting loss of wildlife habitat stands to have a negative impact on hunting and outdoors opportunities North Dakota residents have come to expect in the past 20 years.
"There are just so many things going on here, and the sportsmen either aren't aware of the significance, or they just aren't speaking up," McEnroe said. "So, how can we get the sportsmen and women of the state conscious and aware?"
The upcoming conference, which begins at 1 p.m. March 30 and wraps at 2:30 p.m. March 31, includes presentations and panel discussions featuring state and federal wildlife officials, legislators, sportsmen's groups, landowners and representatives from the state's energy and guiding-outfitting industries.
"A number of people have gotten a hold of me saying, 'we don't want to hear from guides and outfitters and energy people or economic development people,'" McEnroe said. "Well, we're not going there to tell hunting stories to each other. This is the future and what's happening in the state.
"We don't want this to be a (gripe) session, we want it to be an awareness of where the state has been -- hunting in particular -- in the last 50-60 years" and where it's headed, he added. "We can't say that it's all bad or all good, but how do these pieces fit together and what do the participants out there want? What will they support and advocate?"
McEnroe, who began meeting in July with North Dakota Game and Fish Department director Terry Steinwand about the conference, said organizers have been meeting weekly since October setting the agenda and lining up speakers. He said organizers are hoping to draw 120 people, and so far, about 85 people have registered for the conference.
The registration fee is $10, which includes supper March 30 and lunch March 31; McEnroe said there'll be room for last-minute registrants, as well.
"If we could pull more than the usual cast of characters together and get somewhat of a unified feeling out of this, we think it would be a good thing," McEnroe said.
For more information on the conference, contact the Wildlife Federation at (888) 827-2557 or firstname.lastname@example.org ; or McEnroe at email@example.com .
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .