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N.D. grouse, partridge numbers continue to lag

Sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge numbers in North Dakota continue to feel the effects of last year's drought, a state Game and Fish Department biologist says.

Hunters likely will have to work harder to put sharp-tailed grouse in the bag this fall as bird numbers continue to feel the effects of widespread drought conditions in 2017. North Dakota's grouse and Hungarian partridge season opens Saturday, Sept. 8. (Photo/ Craig Bihrle, North Dakota Game and Fish Department)
Hunters likely will have to work harder to put sharp-tailed grouse in the bag this fall as bird numbers continue to feel the effects of widespread drought conditions in 2017. North Dakota's grouse and Hungarian partridge season opens Saturday, Sept. 8. (Photo/ Craig Bihrle, North Dakota Game and Fish Department)

Sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge numbers in North Dakota continue to feel the effects of last year's drought, a state Game and Fish Department biologist says.

North Dakota's grouse and partridge seasons open Saturday, Sept. 8.

"Numbers were already low going into 2017, and then we didn't have good production largely due to the drought, so this spring our numbers were down once again," said Jesse Kolar, upland game management supervisor for Game and Fish in Dickinson, N.D. "Assuming typical production this summer, but from fewer birds, hunters should expect similar conditions to last year."

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

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Again this year, Game and Fish is asking upland game hunters for help with future bird management by collecting some feathers from birds they shoot and sending in wing envelopes this fall.

Wing data allows biologists to assess production, determine the timing of hatches and get a better understanding of the harvest ratio of males to females, and juveniles to adults.

Instructions for submitting wing data are printed on the envelope.

Hunters interested in collecting samples can order envelopes on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov or contact the department's main office in Bismarck at (701) 328-6300 or by email at ndgf@nd.gov .

District offices in Devils Lake, Jamestown, Riverdale, Dickinson, Williston and Lonetree Wildlife Management Area near Harvey, N.D., also have envelopes on hand.

With upland game bird seasons approaching, Game and Fish officials also are asking hunters to keep tabs on the National Weather Service's daily rural fire index to be aware of conditions that could be conducive to accidental starting or spread of fires.

Dry conditions persist in many parts of the state.

County governments also have the authority to adopt penalties for violations of county restrictions related to burning bans. These restrictions apply regardless of the daily fire danger index and remain in place until each county's commission rescinds the ban.

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Information on current fire danger indexes is available through ndresponse.gov or from a county sheriff's office.

For more information on hunting seasons and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2018-19 Hunting and Trapping Guide.

In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources will release results from its annual roadside wildlife survey on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

The report summarizes roadside counts of pheasants, Hungarian partridge, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits and other wildlife observed in the early morning hours during the first two weeks of August in Minnesota's farmland region.

Minnesota's grouse and partridge seasons open Saturday, Sept. 15.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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