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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: N.D. winter deer survey, DU hires new biologists etc.

Poor flying conditions hamper N.D. deer survey Persistent low clouds have hampered the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual aerial winter deer surveys across the state. According to Roger Johnson, big game management supervisor for Game...

Poor flying conditions

hamper N.D. deer survey

Persistent low clouds have hampered the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual aerial winter deer surveys across the state.

According to Roger Johnson, big game management supervisor for Game and Fish in Devils Lake, the department canceled plans to fly late this past week and is hoping the sky finally clears this week.

Ample snowfall is crucial to spotting deer from the air, but safe flying conditions are just as important.

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"We haven't been able to get off the ground because we just can't see to fly," Johnson said. "It would be nice to get some flying done when we have snow."

Bill Jensen, big game biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said about 25 percent of the survey has been completed so far. Results are preliminary, at best, but it appears deer populations are down, he said.

"As far as actual percentages, that's going to take some time to figure out," Jensen said.

Snow and weather permitting, Game and Fish conducts the surveys every winter in January and February to estimate deer populations and help set hunting license numbers for the next fall.

-- Brad Dokken

DU hires conservation

biologists in N.D.

Ducks Unlimited has hired two new Conservation Program biologists in North Dakota.

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Krista Reiser and Heather Shaw are working with landowners in the state's Missouri Coteau area to find conservation solutions that protect or restore natural resources while improving a landowner's operation.

Shaw, who's from the state of Michigan, assists farmers and ranchers in Logan, McIntosh and Emmons Counties, while Reiser works with landowners in Burleigh, Kidder and Sheridan counties.

Shaw said their goal is to help landowners find the right fit of conservation programs offered by different agencies and organizations.

Reiser, a North Dakota native, said the DU Conservation Program biologists are "go-to" people for conservation programs so landowners don't have to go from one agency to the next.

"We want them to know there's one contact person who can point them in the right direction," she said.

The positions were created through a partnership with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

-- Herald staff report

Did you know?

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- Lee Widdel, Minot, won the spring light rifle match held last weekend at the Forks Rifle Club range west of Grand Forks. Mitch Sivertson, Fargo, was first in the master class. Tom Reiten, Grand Forks, was first in the expert class. Mike Knain, Emerado, N.D., was first in the sharpshooter class. Rebecca Thompson, Grand Forks, was first in the marksman class.

- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a reminder to winter recreationists that motorized vehicles, including ATVs and snowmobiles, are restricted to designated roads or parking areas on federal Waterfowl Production Areas. Vehicles are allowed on the ice for ice fishing only if there is access from a right-of-way or designated road.

- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has awarded $3.4 million in grants to 21 local communities from the new Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program. None of the grants are in northwestern Minnesota. Funding for the program comes from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment that Minnesota voters approved in 2008.

- The DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program is urging Minnesotans to remember to help wildlife by donating to the Nongame Wildlife Fund on their state tax forms. The program gets 80 percent of its funding from donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

- More than 32,000 citizens donated services valued at $8.8 million during 2009 to assist the DNR with a variety of projects and programs, the agency said. That's the equivalent of an extra 209 full-time staff. For more information about DNR volunteering opportunities, check out the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov and click on the word "volunteering."

Related Topics: HUNTING
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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