Wildlife woes continue
North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists indicate the final four to six weeks of winter will be critical to the health of the state’s wildlife. "Depending on how the rest of the winter plays out, the cumulative impact could be significant," said Randy Kreil, wildlife chief. Reports of pheasant losses continue, especially after the statewide rain experienced in early February. "Reports across the state vary from birds doing okay to areas with considerable losses," said Stan Kohn, upland game bird supervisor. "In some instances, landowners are reporting 75 percent fewer birds than they did in the beginning of winter." The Game and Fish Department receives phone calls on a regular basis from hunters inquiring about what this winter will mean in terms of pheasant hunting opportunities next fall. "We’ve even had people ask if we are going to lower the bag limit," Kreil said. "At this point it is far too early to make any such predictions. We will closely monitor the results of the spring pheasant crowing count surveys, and this will give us our first real definitive information on just how difficult the winter was and what sort of losses we incurred." The department continues to receive reports of dying or dead deer in some areas of the state. Kreil said mostly fawns and older deer are affected by the cold and wind, which is not uncommon. In addition, heavy snow cover that prevents deer from accessing their usual food sources has resulted in at least five separate incidents of grain overload, with seven to 50 deer dying in each incident.