Small Game and Furbearer Regulations Proposed

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North Dakota's 2005 small game and furbearer regulations have been proposed and most season structures and bag limits are similar to last year, according to Randy Kreil, wildlife chief for the state Game and Fish Department.

A significant change involves the addition of an experimental mountain lion season, which upon the governor's approval, will run statewide from Sept. 2 through March 12, 2006, or until a season quota of five cats has been met. If the quota is reached, the season will close immediately.

"There have been an increasing number of confirmed mountain lion reports in recent years, most likely due to immigration from Montana and South Dakota," Kreil said. "We would like to know more regarding the current status of these animals in North Dakota, and this experimental hunting season will be implemented to gather biological information on mountain lions in the state."

The mountain lion season is open only to North Dakota residents. A furbearer or combination license is required and the use of dogs is permitted.

Any mountain lion that is taken must be reported to the department within 12 hours, Kreil said, and the entire animal must be submitted for analysis. Legally taken animals will be returned to the hunter following analysis.

Actions during the recent state legislative session established the option for a youth pheasant season. Legally licensed residents and nonresidents 12-16 years old may hunt pheasants statewide Oct. 1-2.

Nonresidents will notice a change in both the small game and waterfowl licensing structure passed during the state legislature. The small game license is now valid for 14 days instead of 10, and nonresident waterfowl hunters will have an option of buying a statewide waterfowl license with no zone restrictions for $125.

Nonresident sandhill crane hunters must purchase either a waterfowl license or a small game license. Nonresidents using a waterfowl license may only hunt cranes in their waterfowl zone.

Other nonresident small game and waterfowl licensing details are similar to last year.

As in 2004, federal frameworks allow for an early waterfowl opener. The first seven days (Sept. 24-30) will be open to residents only. Other details will be finalized in mid-August in the waterfowl amendment to the small game and furbearer proclamation.

The state legislature also made a change regarding the licensing requirement for hunting on an Indian reservation. Individuals who hunt exclusively on Indian lands within the exterior boundaries of an Indian reservation are not required to have a state hunting license.

In accordance with state law, nonresidents are not allowed to hunt on Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or conservation PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) areas from Oct. 8-14.

Hunters should refer to the North Dakota 2005-06 Small Game and Furbearer guides (available early August) for more details on small game and furbearer seasons. Waterfowl regulations will be available toward the end of the month.