Leier: Legislature weighs in
The 2013 North Dakota Legislature dealt with a number of bills related to outdoor recreation and conservation.
Some of the discussions in which I've been involved since the session ended in early May have included the comprehensive license fee bill which pass by a wide margin in both the House of Representatives and Senate. I'll run down those changes in due time, as the license fee increases don't go into effect until 2014.
In the meantime, let's take a quick look at some of the other new laws passed.
- HB 1017 -- Appropriates $67,553,639 for the Game and Fish Department for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2015.
- HB 1123 -- Removed the requirement that the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident with an undomesticated animal, such as a deer, needs to notify law enforcement authorities.
- HB 1130 -- Requires each county auditor to implement a computerized online licensing system by March 1, 2015, and each agent appointed by a county auditor by March 1, 2016.
- HB 1131 -- Addresses eligibility requirements for landowner deer gratis licenses and defines at what age an individual can apply for and participate in the deer season.
Several changes are a result of HB 1131:
1. An individual who turns age 14 in the same year as the respective big game hunting season can apply for a license. Previously, the individual had to turn age 14 before the season.
2. An individual who turns age 12 in the same year as the youth deer season can receive an antlerless white-tailed deer for the youth season. Previously, the youth hunter had to turn age 12 prior to opening day of the youth deer season.
3. Trusts and life estates were included for those eligible to apply for a gratis deer license. Only one individual listed in the trust or life estate is eligible to receive a deer license, not multiple licenses for the trust or life estate.
4. The acreage of land owned or leased for agricultural purposes has been changed from 160 acres to 150 acres, thus eligibility for a gratis deer, pronghorn or moose has been changed.
5. Gratis applications must be received by the regular deer gun lottery deadline in order to be issued an "any legal deer" license. Any gratis application received after the deadline could still be issued a gratis deer license but only for the sex and species remaining after the first lottery, which are typically antlerless (doe) licenses.
- HB 1195 -- Allows an individual to show proof of a hunting or fishing license in paper or electronic format.
- HB 1264 -- Addresses the issue of Canada goose depredation that occurs during the spring and summer months in North Dakota, and provides additional direction to the Department as it relates to reducing goose depredation on high value commodity crops such as soybeans and corn. In addition, HB 1264 allows a nonresident to hunt statewide during the entire early Canada goose season at a license fee of $50 without counting against the 14-day regular season license. The bill also created a $5 license that residents will also need to hunt during the early season.
- HB 1278 -- Creates a North Dakota outdoor heritage fund designed to help provide access to private and public lands and develop fish and wildlife habitat.
- HB 1336 -- Allows the governor's proclamation to establish the number of paddlefish snagging tags available and the manner of issuance. This would allow the Game and Fish Department to develop a lottery system of issuing paddlefish tags in future years.
Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email:firstname.lastname@example.org