Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 88

Monday after the state’s deer gun season closes. The reason, Pabian explained, is that waterfowl don’t use those areas open in September during fall migration, while the closed portions are heavily used so they open in late November after waterfowl migrate. Over the years, major refuges in North Dakota worked to standardize their opening upland game bird seasons with most opening the Monday after deer gun season closes. It’s become a major tradition on refuges like Audubon where the refuge’s volunteer support organization, Audubon Refuge Partners, serves brunch for a nominal fee. Proceeds support educational programs. However, because refuges aren’t those “cookie cutters”, hunting opportunities vary from refuge to refuge within North Dakota. For example, some are open to deer gun or archery hunting for hunters with a license for the unit where the refuge is located. However, Upper Souris, J. Clark Salyer NWR located northeast of Minot, and Tewaukon NWR in southeast N.D. require refuge-specific licenses for the deer gun season. Hunters apply for the refuge when applying for their license. Portions of J. Clark Salyer NWR are open to waterfowl hunting. Typically, major North Dakota refuges have closed areas within areas open to hunting, usually for safety purposes around buildings or adjacent farmsteads. The Refuge Improvement Act requires refuges to develop comprehensive management plans. In the process, some look at options to provide additional hunting opportunities. For example, Pabian said Upper Souris has received requests to open for turkey and moose hunting. While still weaving its way through the Fish and Wildlife Service approval process, it’s possible licensed moose and turkey hunters could have additional opportunities on Upper Souris NWR, even as early as 201 7. “We’re always looking at expanding opportunities,” Pabian said. • Page 88, Dakota Country, October 2016 NWR Refuge Regulations Vary Not all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) are created equal. The forerunner to the Fish and Wildlife Service purchased easement rights from private landowners through the Dust Bowl Era of the 1930s into the middle of the century to provide resting areas for migratory waterfowl, described Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge manager Tom Pabian. Even today, private landowners still retain ownership of those refuges. The role of an easement refuge is to provide migratory bird resting areas and are closed to hunting. However, land use has changed in some instances. Both easement and fee title refuges have the same signage with the recognizable flying goose logo and the words “Unauthorized entry prohibited.” They are all considered units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Pabian said. Hunting isn’t allowed on easement refuges, while some fee title refuges -- but not all -- may allow some hunting opportunities. While the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act opened many doors of hunting and fishing opportunities, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges typically have refuge-specific regulations over and above state regulations. All state and federal license requirements apply on refuges, as well as Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WMA). In addition, non-toxic shot is required for upland game bird hunting. Confused? Check with local refuge headquarters or go to the Fish and Wildlife Service website www.fws.gov/offices/Directory/ListOffices.cfm?statecode=38 for a listing of the agency’s presence in North Dakota. • www.dakotacountrymagazine.com