Watchable wildlife photo contest underway

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is accepting entries for its annual Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest.

The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as plants and insects. Contest judges will choose an overall winning photograph, with the number of place winners in each category determined by the number of qualified entries.

Contest guidelines are the same as in previous years, but the process for submitting photos has changed. This year, photographers will provide information and upload images through the Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov/photo-contest, which is the only way to submit entries.

Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota, and photographers who submit entries grant permission for Game and Fish to publish winning photographs in North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine, and on the department’s website.

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The deadline for submitting photos is Oct. 1. Info: Patrick Isakson, conservation biologist, pisakson@nd.gov.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Did you know?

  • Minnesota’s annual Take a Kid Fishing weekend begins Friday, June 7, and continues through Sunday, June 9, Minnesota residents can fish without licenses if they take children 15 or younger fishing. In addition, Minnesota residents generally can fish in state parks without a fishing license if the body of water does not require a trout stamp. More info: www.mndnr.gov/GoFishing.

  • It is illegal to import minnows and other forms of live aquatic bait into North Dakota. Anglers instead should buy their bait from a licensed North Dakota retail bait vendor. Bait vendors can properly identify species and have taken steps to ensure all bait is clean of any aquatic nuisance species.For more information, refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide, available at license vendors or on the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

  • John Hoyer, of Orono, Minn., weighed in a two-day total of 80.33 pounds of walleyes to win the National Walleye Tour event May 30-31 on Lake Michigan out of Marinette, Wis. Hoyer won an upgraded fully rigged Ranger 620FS boat and trailer package for being Ranger Cup-qualified with a 250-horsepower Evinrude outboard, $15,000 in prize money and $2,926 in Anglers Advantage cash for a total of $86,921 in winnings. This year’s NWT championship is set for Sept. 11-13 on Devils Lake, with tournament headquarters and related events set for Grahams Island State Park.

- Compiled by Brad Dokken

Fish feeding dispenser back at Ryan Pond

The Grand Forks Park District and Brad Olson, operations manager of Bears Home Solutions in Grand Forks, recently teamed up to reinstall a fish feeding station at Ryan Pond, and a second will be added in the near future.

According to Olson, Park District staff volunteered to repaint the dispensers, and the first was set up Friday, May 24, at the west end of Ryan Pond. For 25 cents, the stations dispense fish food pellets that kids and families can toss into Ryan Pond to feed the bluegills and rainbow trout that live in the pond.

Olson oversaw the feeding stations when he worked at Cabela’s in East Grand Forks but left the retailer in 2018, and the feeders weren’t put out last year. He approached the Park District about bringing the feeders back to the pond this year, and “they said absolutely,” he said.

A second feeding station is planned for the east side of Ryan Pond, Olson said.

“I love seeing kids and families spend time together in the outdoors, and what an exciting opportunity to be able to provide this unique experience for families in our community,” Olson said.

-- Brad Dokken

N.D. pronghorn survey begins in mid-June

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual aerial pronghorn survey is set to begin in mid-June with a secondary survey, and the main survey is scheduled for July 1-10.

During the survey period, people could notice low-flying small airplanes over some parts of western North Dakota.

Game and Fish uses the survey to determine pronghorn abundance, herd demographics and fawn production. The department then uses the data to set the number of licenses for the fall pronghorn hunting season.

Last year’s survey results indicated the fawn-to-doe ratio was 62 fawns per 100 does, which was equal to the long-term average. The buck-to-doe ratio of 45 bucks per 100 does was above the population objective.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

NDGF tags walleyes on Sakakawea, Alkaline lakes

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently tagged about 3,000 walleyes in Lake Sakakawea -- 1,000 each in the upper, middle and lower regions of the Missouri River reservoir.

Managers plan to continue tagging 3,000 walleyes from Lake Sakakawea each year through 2022. The four-year study aims to help fisheries biologists assess walleye harvest by size, natural mortality, angling mortality and movements.

In addition to Sakakawea, Game and Fish crews tagged about 2,000 walleyes in Alkaline Lake in Kidder County. The one-year study will enhance biologists’ understanding of the proportion of fish that anglers harvest each year from Alkaline Lake.

Anglers who catch a tagged fish should treat it like any other and report the tag number to the Game and Fish website at www.gf.nd.gov. Anglers who release fish should not remove the tag.

Signs posted around lakes with ongoing tagging studies feature a QR code that will take anglers directly to the tagged fish report page on the department’s website.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

DNR updates state wetlands inventory

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has completed a 10-year effort to provide more accurate maps of the state’s wetlands. The update of the state’s National Wetlands Inventory used new technologies to produce a clearer picture of Minnesota’s wetlands, lakes, rivers and streams.

The updated inventory gives resource managers and landowners a vital tool to aid wetland protection and restoration.

“These new maps are much more accurate, capture more detail and provide more information than the original NWI maps,” Steve Kloiber, the DNR manager of the NWI update project, said in a news release.

The new statewide GIS dataset reveals there are 14.2 million acres of combined lake and wetland areas in Minnesota. Of that total, 12.2 million acres are wetlands, which are distinguished by having relatively shallow water or saturated soils with permanent vegetation under normal conditions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service originally mapped wetlands in Minnesota in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of the National Wetlands Inventory. The just-completed DNR mapping project is the first time the NWI has been updated in Minnesota. The new maps reflect the latest technology in remote sensing and mapping, including high-resolution aerial imagery and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data.

The new wetland info is available through an interactive mapping application on the DNR’s website (https://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/ewr/wetlandfinder) and also can be downloaded, free of charge, for use in geographic information system applications through the Minnesota Geospatial Commons (https://gisdata.mn.gov/).

The update project was funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. Other partners included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Minnesota, St. Mary’s University, Ducks Unlimited and the St. Croix Watershed Research Station.

-- Minnesota DNR