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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Fewer bear tags, North Dakota habitat programs etc.

DNR reduces quota bear licenses The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reducing bear hunting opportunities this year in quota areas where hunters last year had a record-high success rate of 50 percent. "The reduction in bear permit numb...

DNR reduces quota bear licenses

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reducing bear hunting opportunities this year in quota areas where hunters last year had a record-high success rate of 50 percent.

"The reduction in bear permit numbers for quota areas is to allow bear population numbers to gradually increase," the agency said in a news release. "The 2016 bear season harvest was higher than expected as a result of poor natural food availability for bears last fall."

The number of bear licenses in the quota area has been reduced from 3,850 last year to 3,350 this year. Those permits are issued under a lottery system with an application deadline of May 5.
The bear-hunting season will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15.
Lottery winners will be notified by June 2.
For the no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota, the DNR said it will sell an unlimited number of bear licenses over the counter.
-- Star Tribune (Minneapolis)/ Tribune News Service

NDGF announces habitat projects

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is partnering with the U.S Department of Agriculture to provide landowners with options to enroll acreage into two new programs designed to develop wildlife habitat.

A new Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, and State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement, are companion programs to the popular Conservation Reserve Program.

According to Kevin Kading, Game and Fish private land section leader, the partners are excited about the opportunities available to landowners.

"We've worked a long time developing these projects with USDA, and working with other partners and stakeholders," Kading said. "We feel these are good options for landowners to address a resource concern and also open up some quality habitat for hunters."

Landowners interested in CREP can enroll acres in portions of Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McKenzie, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sioux, Slope and Stark counties. The enrollment cap for this program is 20,000 acres.

Over a 10-year period, about $19 million in federal funds from the Farm Service Agency will be used to provide annual rental, incentive and cost-share payments for filter strips, riparian buffers, or pollinator and honeybee habitat. The state will contribute more than $4.3 million, which is funded from the Game and Fish Department's Private Land Open To Sportsmen program and the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.

There is no size requirement for enrolling land into CREP. Any land enrolled in a CREP contract with USDA must also be enrolled in the Game and Fish PLOTS program. Landowners will receive payments for allowing walk-in hunting access, and are eligible for additional habitat enhancements, incentives and cost-share.

Landowners don't have to allow public access to their entire property, Kading said; only a 40-acre minimum is required for enrollment in PLOTS.

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In addition to the CREP, North Dakota landowners can enroll up to 40,000 acres into the Declining Grasslands Birds SAFE, which is designed to develop habitat for species of special concern.

Counties in the project area for SAFE are all of Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burleigh, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Kidder, Logan, McIntosh, McKenzie, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sioux, Slope, Stark and Williams counties; and portions of Burke, Dickey, Divide, Foster, LaMoure, McHenry, McLean, Mountrail, Sheridan, Stutsman, Ward and Wells counties.

For information regarding the project, landowners should contact a local Game and Fish private land biologist or their local county USDA service center.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

NDGF sponsors Earth Day project

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department once again is celebrating Earth Day by sponsoring clean-up days on publicly owned or managed lands.

With Earth Day recognized April 22, each member of a school, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, 4-H club or youth organization who participates in cleaning up public lands through May will receive a specifically designed conservation patch.

Last winter the Game and Fish Department sponsored a contest for students ages 6-18 to design a North Dakota Earth Day Patch. Winners in the three age categories were Ryan Schumacher of Dickinson (6-9), Morgan DeGeldere of Grafton (10-13), and Deanna Rose of Grand Forks (14-18). Schumacher's design was chosen as the contest winner, and will be used on this year's Earth Day patch.

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Info: Pat Lothspeich, (701) 328-6332.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

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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