Leier: New laws set for deer season
A new law that requires a North Dakota driver’s license number or state-issued photo identification number for most people to buy a resident hunting or fishing license, went into effect April 1.
Since this new law directly affects the deer license application process that will take place over the next month, it’s a good time to provide some background.
House Bill 1161 passed unanimously in both the North Dakota House and Senate during the 2013 legislative session.
Basically, this law requires anyone age 18 and older, when purchasing or applying for a resident hunting or fishing license, to submit a valid North Dakota driver’s license number or a North Dakota nondriver photo identification number.
The first test of the new provision was the moose, elk and bighorn sheep application. Online applications went smoothly because prospective hunters couldn’t get their application validated unless the box for the identification number was filled in.
Many people who used paper applications, however, inadvertently missed or incorrectly filled in the line for the driver’s license number. Instead of simply invalidating those applications, Game and Fish Department licensing personnel mailed them back to the applicants so they could fill in the missing numbers.
Because of this additional step, the moose, elk and sheep license drawing was delayed by several weeks. Game and Fish wants to minimize the potential for that to happen with the deer drawing.
So, if you’re a North Dakota resident deer hunter and you’re mailing in a paper application for the regular deer gun lottery, make sure to include the driver’s license number exactly as it appears on the license, for everyone age 18 and older. If any part of the application is incomplete or in error, the entire application will not be processed and will be returned to sender.
Applications for the two types of youth deer licenses do not have a space for a driver’s license number, since everyone eligible for a youth license is under age 18.
When I first started my career with Game and Fish nearly 20 years ago, there was a fair amount of misrepresentation on license applications by nonresidents who were purposely trying to avoid paying the higher cost of nonresident upland game, waterfowl or deer licenses.
While that still happens, a different scenario has emerged over the past five years as more and more people have moved to North Dakota from other states. North Dakota state law still requires people to live in the state for six months before they can qualify for resident hunting or fishing licenses, though a waiver of this requirement is available for nonlottery licenses if the person can verify that they are indeed permanent residents.
Some people, however, who have lived and worked in the state for six months or more, still technically do not qualify for a resident license because they continue to maintain their permanent residence in another state.
That set of circumstances often created some confusion at license vendors and even on the Game and Fish Department’s online system, in determining whether the requirements of residency were met. And most people in that situation just wanted to know if they were legally able to buy a resident license.
The legislation last year simplified the process. Now there’s space on the paper applications for the identification number, and a field for the online application process.
The bottom line is this: if you’re 18 or older old and applying for a resident deer license on a paper application in the next few weeks, remember to include your North Dakota driver’s license or nondriver photo identification number in the space provided.
That will help keep the deer license lottery process moving along smoothly.
Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leier’s blog can be found at dougleier.areavoices.com.