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ND: Upland Bird Numbers Down

By: by North Dakota Game and Fish Department

North Dakota hunters should expect to see fewer upland game birds this hunting season, according to Aaron Robinson, State Game and Fish Department upland game management biologist. The season for sharp-tailed grouse, ruffed grouse and Hungarian partridge opens Sept. 10.

“Excessive water has affected reproduction in areas, but there will be some areas good for sharptails,” Robinson said. “But no doubt birds will be harder to find.”

The spring sharptail breeding population was down 30 percent from last year, with numbers falling from west to east. Losses of native prairie and acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program are negatively affecting the sharp-tailed grouse population in North Dakota, Robinson said. In addition, three consecutive harsh winters and a wet, cold spring this year delayed nesting across the state.

Hungarian partridge numbers are also down, and more localized, than last year, Robinson said. “Scouting areas will be critical to success,” he added. “At this time there is not one area that stands out from the rest. The cover is high, so hunters will need to scout and be willing to move to other areas to find localized pockets of birds.”

This spring’s statewide ruffed grouse drumming counts took a dip of 15 percent from 2010. The number of drumming males increased almost 13 percent in the Pembina Hills, but the Turtle Mountains showed a 28 percent decrease from last year.

The sage grouse and prairie chicken seasons will remain closed in 2011 due to low populations.

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2011-12 Small Game Hunting Guide.

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