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Collaring survey

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Jeb Williams, the North Dakota Game and Fish assistant wildlife chief in Bismarck, talks during the North Dakota Game and Fish district 8 advisory meeting at Whiting Oil in Dickinson.1 / 2
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Greg Link, the North Dakota Game and Fish conservation division chief in Bismarck, talks during the North Dakota Game and Fish District 8 advisory meeting at Whiting Oil in Dickinson.2 / 2

With a grant from the Oil and Gas Research Council through the North Dakota Industrial Commission, a mule deer collar study will start in January.

Jesse Kolar, a graduate student from the University of Missouri, will spend the next five years collaring and surveying mule deer populations around oil activity, talked about it during the North Dakota Game and Fish Department District 8 advisory meeting on Wednesday at Whiting Oil in Dickinson.

"We got a lot of new oil and energy impacting the state," said Kolar, who is from Dickinson. "The interest is there from the public and from oil companies. They can find out how to better mitigate the effects."

Kolar will start collaring 90 mule deer doe and fawns during the next four years. The study lasts five years and the final year will be spent putting together the data collected in the previous four years.

The most alarming numbers for mule deer populations that spread from North Dakota down to Texas is the ratio of doe to fawns, because they are so low.

"We're excited about it," said Jeb Williams, NDGF Department assistant wildlife chief of the mule deer survey. "There's no doubt the western part of the state is experiencing some changes and more changes to come in future years."

Mule deer are going to be tracked five times throughout the day and the study will take place from Watford City to Amidon.

"Everybody is interested in how traffic and all the little impacts from the oil field are going affect mule deer populations," Kolar said. "They want to know where the limitation or population is."

Terry Steinwand, NDGF Department director, said Whiting Oil has been very supportive in the NDGF Department efforts to find the oil activity.

"This is a different oil plane than any others in the world," he said. "Blaine Hoffman and Whiting Oil have been tremendous to work with."

The meeting opened up with questions from the crowd of 26 people. The question ranged from Conservation Resource Production to deer numbers to moose sightings in the Regent area. The loss of CRP has some hunters worried about the habitat in southwest North Dakota.

"I'd say this crowd was a little above average," Steinwand said. "We've done this for five or six years now with the open hour questions. We used to come in with just formal presentations. We changed, because these people come to meetings to get some of their questions answered."

Mule deer numbers have been sparse, but in the Regent area there are plenty of whitetail deer sightings. Regent was hit hard by the EHD outbreak in the spring.

"Any time that you can have this face-to-face interaction," said Williams, who is from Beach. "That's good, quality stuff. We have our tool in place for management, but something to be said with this type of interaction in their local areas. I've been going to these advisory board meetings a lot of years now and I've heard a lot of good ideas come from advisory board meetings from the general public."