North Dakota Moose, Bighorn and Elk Seasons Proposed

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Additional elk hunting opportunities highlight the proposed 2008 special big game seasons. The 2008 moose, elk and bighorn sheep proclamation was recently submitted to Gov. John Hoeven's office for review and approval.

A total of 561 elk licenses are recommended, an increase of 140 from last year. Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the increase primarily occurs in Units E3 and E4.

"Licenses in these two units are increased again this year in an attempt to reduce the number of elk outside the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park," Kreil said.

Units E3 and E4 will have hunting seasons in September, October and an extended season in November and December. The extended season is open to both September and October season license holders. The season in August, when hot weather can be a negative factor for hunters, has been eliminated due to elk remaining outside the south unit of the park longer throughout the year. "By having successful elk hunting opportunities available September through December negates the need to have an August season," Kreil said.

In addition, E3 and E4 lottery license holders must stay in their unit for only the first three days of the season. After that, they may hunt either Units E3 or E4. "The increased flexibility in hunting unit boundaries is designed to maximize elk harvest in these two units," Kreil said.

Elk hunters in Units E3 and E4 are required to provide hunter harvest information no later than Jan. 11, 2009. Failure to do so will result in loss of eligibility for all lottery licenses in 2009. Kreil mentioned timely harvest information is critical to making management decisions for the next year's elk season.

The landowner preference area is enlarged in Unit E3 to include areas where elk have expanded during recent years. However, unlike lottery license holders, landowner preference license holders may only hunt in their unit.

Bow hunters in Units E1 and E2 are allowed to hunt during all open seasons. Kreil said this change is made to increase hunting opportunity and harvest in those units.

The remainder of the state outside of the four elk units, and the Turtle Mountains area described as Deer Unit 1, has been established as elk Unit E5. This unit is open to all lottery license holders from Sept. 5 through Dec. 31.

"Unit E5 was created to address situations where wild elk occur in areas of unsuitable habitat and near captive elk facilities," Kreil said.

Once the lottery has been held, there may be a chance cow (antlerless) elk licenses remain. If this happens, Kreil said these once-in-a-lifetime licenses would be issued on a first come, first served basis, and details on how and when a person may apply will be announced at that time. "The thinking behind the first come, first served option is that if someone wanted an antlerless elk license they had their chance to apply in the lottery either as a first choice or a second choice," he added. "It will be much simpler, less confusing, and save another application and lottery process to issue these licenses first come, first served."

A total of 142 moose licenses are proposed in 2008, a decrease of five from last year. Kreil said the number of licenses in several moose hunting units was adjusted slightly depending upon the population trend in the area. Unit M1C will remain closed due to an extremely low moose population in the northeastern portion of the state.

Six bighorn sheep licenses are proposed in three units – one license in units B1 and B3, three in Unit B4, and one license auctioned through the Minnesota-Wisconsin Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep. Bighorn sheep Unit B2 is closed for the 2008 season due to a decrease in the number of mature rams.

Online applications for prospective moose, elk and bighorn sheep hunters will be available by March 7. To apply online, or to print out an application to mail, access the Game and Fish Department's website, License vendors are scheduled to have applications around March 10. The deadline for submitting applications is March 19.

Bighorn sheep, moose, and elk lottery licenses are issued on a once-in-a-lifetime basis in North Dakota. Persons who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.