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Outdoors Notebook: Red River fisheries surveys postponed, send us your fishing photos etc.

If you have a fish photo you’d like to share with Herald readers, please email it to Brad Dokken at bdokken@gfherald.com. Please include the names of people in the photo, where they’re from, the body of water or general area where the fish was caught and whether it was kept or released.

Catfish closeup.jpg
A channel catfish is sampled by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries crews in June 2010 on the Red River in Grand Forks. The DNR is postponing a fisheries survey planned for this summer on the Red River because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has postponed a creel survey. The two agencies generally coordinate the surveys every five years, with the last surveys conducted in 2015. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

DNR, NDGF postpone Red River surveys

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department have agreed to postpone fisheries surveys planned for this summer on the Red River because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two agencies share management of the border river.

In North Dakota, the Game and Fish Department has postponed a creel survey that was on tap to measure a variety of fishing activity including pressure, harvest and angler attitudes. Game and Fish normally conducts the survey every five years, with recent surveys in 2010 and 2015.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has postponed a riverwide fish population survey it normally conducts every five years on a schedule that coincides with North Dakota’s creel survey. The survey requires fisheries crews to work in close proximity setting trap nets and trotlines to sample fish, and that’s not possible this year because of the 6-foot physical distancing recommendations in place to minimize the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, said Henry Drewes, Northwest Region fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji.

– Brad Dokken


Wanted: Your fishing photos

OK, readers out there who fish: It’s time to show off a bit.

Fishing season now is underway in Minnesota and never ends in North Dakota.

Have you caught a nice fish or a memorable fish? We’d like to see a photo.

If you have a fish photo you’d like to share with Herald readers, please email it to Brad Dokken at bdokken@gfherald.com . Please include the names of people in the photo, where they’re from, the body of water or general area where the fish was caught and whether it was kept or released.

Photos will be posted to the Herald’s website and online Trophy Room gallery and appear in print occasionally as space permits.

Hunting photos are always welcome, too, of course, again with the requirement that the names of people be included.

– Brad Dokken

TRNP to receive bison from Colorado

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota and the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota will receive wild bison later this year as part of a new conservation initiative Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced Thursday.


The Bison Conservation Initiative is a cooperative venture that will coordinate conservation strategies and approaches for wild American bison over the next 10 years.

“This 10-year plan will guide our collaboration with states, tribes, private conservationists and managers across public lands to advance conservation efforts and honor iconic wild bison,” Bernhardt said in a statement.

The bison being released in Theodore Roosevelt National Park will come from the Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado as part of a collaboration between the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The bison will be part of an ongoing genetics study the NPS is conducting to measure the extent of their integration into an existing herd.

For the South Dakota transfer, the DOI said it is committed to donating wild bison to support the establishment of a new bison herd on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation’s Wolakota Buffalo Range.

Bison were hunted to near extinction in the late 19th century. Today, there are about 11,000 Plains bison in 19 herds on 4.6 million acres of public land across 12 states because of successful public-private conservation partnerships.

More info: doi.gov or nps.gov/bison.

– Brad Dokken

Duck Stamp contest rules change

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday said it is changing the criteria for its federal Duck Stamp contest to require the addition of a theme “celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage” as part of contest rules.


Effective this year, contest entries must depict “an appropriate waterfowl hunting scene or include a hunting-related element” in addition to a live portrayal of one of five waterfowl species eligible for that year.

This year’s contest requires artists to paint either a brant, gadwall, cinnamon teal, lesser scaup or red-breasted merganser in addition to the hunting scene or heritage element.

The change is part of a broader effort under Executive Order 13443 and Secretary of the Interior’s Order 3356 to “support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans.”

“Duck Stamps have been one of America's most effective conservation tools for over 80 years,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement. “Showcasing the heritage of waterfowl hunting in Duck Stamps recognizes the importance of sportsmen and women to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”

Some 1.5 million stamps are sold each year, and as of 2019, Federal Duck Stamps have generated more than $1.1 billion for the preservation of more than 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the U.S. A current federal Duck Stamp also is a free pass into any national wildlife refuge that otherwise charges an entry fee.

Info: https://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp.php.

– Herald staff report

Did you know?

  • Craig Bihrle, longtime communications supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, is retiring after 33½ years with the department. His last day in the office was Friday, May 8, but he’ll continue working from home “a few days here and there” until the end of June. News editor Greg Freeman will serve as interim communications manager until a new person is hired, which will probably take place by mid-June, Bihrle said Friday in an email.

  • Boaters involved in a boating accident in North Dakota that involves injury, death or disappearance of a person must fill out an accident report and send it to the state Game and Fish Department within 48 hours of the occurrence. If property damage exceeds $2,000 but no deaths or injuries occur, a boat operator has five days to file a report. Accident forms are available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov or by contacting a local game warden.

  • North Dakota’s one-week paddlefish snag-and-release season opens Friday, May 15, and continues through Thursday, May 21, for anglers who hold a valid fishing license. If conditions warrant, Game and Fish may close the season with a 24-hour notice. As with all outdoor activities, fisheries chief Greg Power said it is still important that snaggers follow physical distancing guidelines. Legal snagging hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CDT. More info: gf.nd.gov.

– compiled by Brad Dokken

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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