The North Dakota Game and Fish Department encourages hunters and anglers to make mindful decisions on outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic by following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Customer, volunteer and employee well-being is of top priority. Earlier this week, Game and Fish canceled upcoming public gatherings such as the National Archery in the Schools state tournament. In addition, several hunter education classes scheduled to begin in the next few weeks were canceled or postponed, and late-season ice fishing tournaments have canceled events to minimize crowding.

Students enrolled in any classes scheduled to start in March or April can find information on class status on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

With social distancing in mind, the Game and Fish Department in a news release said it encourages hunters and anglers to purchase licenses online, rather than making an in-person visit. The same philosophy applies to watercraft registrations. Contact a local Game and Fish office for assistance with a purchase or registration.

During this time of uncertainty, Game and Fish is offering several suggestions for students and parents to consider while K-12 schools and some businesses are closed because of public health concerns:

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  • Use free time to take the state’s boating safety course. State law requires that 12- to 15-year-olds who want to operate a boat or personal watercraft by themselves with at least a 10-horsepower motor must pass the boating course. And parents, it’s not just for kids. Some insurance companies give adult boat owners who pass the course a discount on boat insurance. The course is available for home study, and there is also an online version.

  • New fishing licenses are needed starting April 1. Take care of that important detail online now so you’re not scrambling to get that license just prior to your first fishing trip of the open water season.

  • 2020 is the first year of the new 3-year boat registration period. If you have a motorized watercraft and haven’t renewed yet, register online so you’re ready to go when the ice goes off your favorite lake.

  • Wednesday, March 25, is the deadline to apply for a moose, elk or bighorn sheep hunting license.

Since it’s important to avoid crowds, North Dakota’s outdoors is a great place for recreation. Anglers can put a boat on the Missouri River right now or still get in some ice fishing on lakes where ice is still safe for travel. If you’re just looking for some exercise, take a hike on one of the department’s 229 wildlife management areas.

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