NDGF sets 2018-20 fishing regulations

Tighter regulations for transporting live white suckers, a shorter paddlefish season and a reduction in daily and possession limits for bluegills are among the changes outlined in North Dakota's 2018-20 fishing proclamation.

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The regulations take effect April 1 and continue through March 31, 2020.

Noteworthy regulation changes include:

• The season for taking nongame fish with a bow now will be open year-round.

• The transportation of live white suckers, other than within Richland, Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Walsh and Pembina counties, is now illegal.

• The beginning of the darkhouse spearfishing season changes from Dec. 1 to whenever ice-up occurs. The closing date of March 15 will remain in place.

• Paddlefish snagging days will begin at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. Also, the season length will be shortened to 21 days (May 1 to May 21). The changes are an effort to both extend the paddlefish season to more than a few days-most years the season lasts only four to six days, as an early in-season closure occurs when the harvest reaches the cap of 1,000 paddlefish-and to improve safety conditions at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers where snaggers converge and congest.

• The statewide daily and possession limit for bluegills is reduced to 10/20 respectively, down from 20/40. The number of quality bluegill fisheries in North Dakota is limited, and reducing the harvest should help maintain the size of bluegills in some lakes.

• Walleye length restrictions are eliminated on North and South Golden, Alkali (Sargent Co.), Lueck and West Moran lakes, and Tosse Slough. While minimum length restrictions for these species have been in place for a number of years, all biological data collected from angler use and population surveys indicates the restrictions have not yielded positive results. As a result, the regulations no longer are necessary.

New fishing licenses are required April 1. More info: gf.nd.gov.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

NDGF clarifies shed antler regulations

As March snow melts away, many deer hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts begin looking for shed antlers.

Both whitetail and mule deer bucks, along with moose and elk, lose their antlers during winter, typically in January and into February, though occasionally, these big game animals are seen with antlers still intact in late March or even early April.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds shed hunters that while it's legal to collect naturally shed antlers without a permit, possession of antlers attached to the skull plate requires a permit. State game wardens and other law enforcement personnel may issue permits on a case-by-case basis. Game warden phone numbers are listed on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

Robert Timian, enforcement chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said shed hunters also should avoid disturbing deer that are congregated.

"Deer generally disperse from larger groups this time of year, but if large groups are hanging out in good winter habitat, it's best to avoid those areas until later in the spring," he said.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Deer feeding bans continue in 16 Minnesota counties

A deer feeding ban remains in effect for 16 counties in central, north-central and southeast Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Feeding bans in central and north-central Minnesota are precautionary and were put in place surrounding two farms where multiple captive deer were infected with chronic wasting disease. Testing of hunter-harvested deer in these areas in fall 2017 did not detect CWD in the wild, but surveillance will continue until the disease is not detected for three consecutive years.

The bans, which remain in place through February 2019, are in effect for the following counties:

• Central: Kandiyohi, McCloud, Meeker, Stearns, Wright and the portion of Renville County north of U.S. Highway 212.

• North-central: Aitkin, Crow Wing, Morrison, the portion of Cass County south of Minnesota highways 34 and 200 and the portion of Mille Lacs County north of County Road 11.

• Southeast: Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted, Mower and Winona counties, where a ban on deer feeding and deer attractants remains in effect through Wednesday, June 27, and likely will be extended because of ongoing disease issues. In Fillmore County, 17 wild deer have been found to have CWD since fall 2016, when the disease first was discovered near Preston, Minn.

Feed includes corn, grain, salt, mineral blocks, fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay and other food that is capable of attracting or enticing deer. People who feed birds or small mammals must do so in a manner that prevents access by deer or place the food at least 6 feet above the ground.

"Even though people have good intentions, feeding often does more harm than good," said Erik Thorson, acting big game program leader for the DNR. "In addition to spreading disease, feeding can lead to death when deer abruptly shift their diet or cause behavioral changes that end up harming the animals."

More info: mndnr.gov/cwd.

-- Minnesota DNR

Sturgeon closure on Winnipeg River prompts concern

WINNIPEG-The organization representing Manitoba's resort and outfitting industry has expressed concern about a change in provincial fishing regulations that prohibits sturgeon fishing on the Winnipeg River from Pine Falls, Man., upstream to the Ontario border.

Previously, sturgeon fishing along the Manitoba portion of the Winnipeg River was subject to a conservation closure during the fishing season, according to a blog post on the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association website.

"For years, there was a 'gray area' where anglers continued to fish for sturgeon, while enforcement officers seemed to rightly look the other way," the blog post indicates. Muddying the waters, however, is a new notice that appears in the 2018 Manitoba Anglers Guide indicating that sturgeon fishing along the affected stretch of the Winnipeg River is closed all year, and anyone who incidentally catches a sturgeon must unhook the fish without bringing it into the boat.

Outfitters also received letters with their annual license renewals warning them not to offer sturgeon fishing trips, the MLOA said.

According to an email from Hooked Magazine (hookedmagazine.ca) promoting its latest issue, this has many guides and anglers upset, and lodge outfitters are concerned about the closure.

"If there is a biological basis to shut down licensed angling for sturgeon, I would suggest with humility that the angling community has hardly been convinced that is necessary, judging by the number of Manitoba anglers who target these fish, register them as Master Anglers, and read how-to articles about them in magazines," Paul Turenne, executive director of the MLOA, said in the email. "We need some clarity on this and on its pragmatic enforcement out on the landscape, as we do not want our members being charged for offering sturgeon trips."

More info: mloa.com, hookedmagazine.ca.

-- Herald staff reports

RMEF supports inaugural Wisconsin elk hunt

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation this week congratulated the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on its decision to offer the state's first-ever managed elk hunt later this year.

"This is the culmination of more than two decades of elk-related conservation work," said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. "RMEF has been involved with reintroduction efforts in Wisconsin dating back to 1995 and continues to put funds on the ground to benefit the state's elk herds and elk habitat."

The Wisconsin DNR will provide 10 bull-only tags for the fall of 2018 within the Clam Lake elk range in north-central Wisconsin. The state's southern elk range in Jackson County will not be a part of the hunt.

RMEF has two dozen chapters and more than 9,700 members in Wisconsin.

-- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation