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Outdoors Notebook: Mule Deer Foundation names new regional director for North Dakota, Minnesota

Born and raised in southern Illinois, Sara Wagner moved to northwestern North Dakota in 2015, where she discovered her passion for hunting and conservation.

Mule deer.jpg
Mule deer.
Contributed/North Dakota Game and Fish Department
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SALT LAKE CITY – The Mule Deer Foundation has hired Sara Wagner as the new regional director for Minnesota and North Dakota, the conservation group said Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Wagner is one of three regional directors the MDF hired to support chapter development and volunteer engagement. Also hired were Josh Westley as the regional director for Washington and western Oregon and Seth Reed, who will cover Idaho and eastern Oregon.

The three new staff members started working for the organization in August and early September. The MDF is headquartered in Salt Lake City.

“Our chapters and local volunteers are absolutely critical to our organization, and the Mule Deer Foundation is excited to add to our outstanding field staff to carry our mission forward,” Joel Pedersen, Mule Deer Foundation president and CEO, said in a statement. “Oregon, Washington, Idaho and North Dakota provide important habitat for mule deer and black-tailed deer, and actively engaging with our local chapters and volunteers to fundraise and get projects done on the ground is essential.”

Scott Peterson, deputy director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said there's “a pretty high likelihood” a bill will be introduced to strip the department of its authority to ban the practice of baiting for deer.

Born and raised in southern Illinois, Wagner moved to northwestern North Dakota in 2015, where she discovered her passion for hunting and conservation. Before coming to MDF, she co-created a women’s hunting platform to share experiences and encourage other women to find adventure and confidence in the outdoors, hosting several women’s outdoor events. Wagner’s volunteer experience with various conservation groups helped get the MDF chapter up and running in Tioga, N.D. Her previous work experience as a community liaison for a local nonprofit agency has her well versed in fundraising events and making community connections, MDF said in a news release.


Wagner says she is excited to share her skills and passion to support the MDF mission.

“We have a phenomenal group of regional directors who bring significant experience and enthusiasm to the work that MDF does,” said Marshall Johnson, MDF’s director of field operations. “We are excited to see Sara, Josh and Seth hit the ground running in their states.”

– Herald staff report

NDGF allocates 5 bighorn sheep licenses

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has allocated five bighorn sheep licenses for the 2022 hunting season, the same as last year, the department said Wednesday in a news release.

One license was issued in unit B1, one in B3, one in B4 and one in B5. In addition, one license, as authorized under North Dakota Century Code, was auctioned in May by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, from which all proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota. According to the Foundation’s website, the North Dakota tag sold for $165,000.

A record 19,423 applicants applied for bighorn sheep. Successful applicants have been notified.

Prospective hunters were required to apply for a bighorn license earlier this year on the bighorn sheep, moose and elk application.

– Herald staff report


N.D. sandhill crane season opens

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s sandhill crane season opens Saturday, Sept. 17, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 13.

Limits are three daily and nine in possession in Unit 1 (west of U.S. Highway 281), and two daily and six in possession in Unit 2 (east of U.S. Highway 281). Shooting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to 2 p.m. each day.

Hunters should use caution and identify birds to prevent shooting at endangered whooping cranes as they begin their fall migration.

In addition to other licenses required, resident hunters need a $10 crane permit, while nonresidents need a $30 permit. Hunters can buy a license online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

Harvest Information Program certification is required. To get HIP certified, access the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

– Herald staff report

DNR seeks input on special fishing regulations

ST. PAUL – Minnesotans can weigh in on proposed special fishing regulations that, if adopted, would become effective next year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is considering experimental and special fishing regulations for the 2023 fishing season that address walleye in Big Sandy Lake (Aitkin County) and Island and Round lakes (Itasca County); panfish in Dyers Lake (Cook County) and Sand Lake (Lake County); brown trout in the Vermillion River (Dakota County); lake trout in Caribou Lake (Itasca County); and northern pike in West Battle, Otter Tail and Turtle River chain of lakes (Fergus Falls and Bemidji area lakes in Otter Tail and Beltrami counties).

Anyone can provide input about these proposals via an online survey at mndnr.gov/FishRegs that is available through Monday, Oct. 17. For additional details or to comment directly by email, postal mail or phone, contact the appropriate area fisheries office . A listing of area offices is available at mndnr.gov/Areas/Fisheries . General input may also be submitted to Jon Hansen at jon.hansen@state.mn.us or (651) 259-5239, or by postal mail to Fishing Regulations, c/o Jon Hansen, Box 20, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.


The DNR also will host in-person open houses on various dates through Oct. 5 in each county where the proposed changes would apply and one in the Twin Cities metro area to cover all proposals. Information on the meeting date is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/Regulations/Fishing/Fishing-Regulations-Meetings.html . Notice of the new regulation proposals also are posted at public accesses.

– Herald staff report

Badlands group to hold annual meeting

BISMARCK – The Badlands Conservation Alliance (BCA) will hold its annual meeting and potluck from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at Church of the Cross meeting space, 1004 E. Highland Acres Road, Bismarck.

BCA is a North Dakota organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the North Dakota Badlands and rolling prairie ecosystem of western North Dakota’s public lands. The group’s mission statement says, “We provide an independent voice for conservation-minded North Dakotans and others who are appreciative of this unique Great Plains landscape.”

Recently, the group was successful in partnering with the U.S. Forest Service, by filing an amicus brief in U.S. District Court to stop a legal effort seeking to allow the state of North Dakota to access sensitive roadless areas of the Badlands for oil development. The state’s lawsuit was dismissed last spring in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the status of some 40,000 acres of U.S. National Grasslands remains classified as “Suitable for Wilderness.”

BCA was founded in 1999 by Lillian Crook and Jan Swenson of Bismarck, Crook remains on the board of directors today, and Swenson retired in 2019 after serving 20 years as the organization’s executive director. Connie Triplett, a Grand Forks attorney and former state senator, serves as the BCA president.

The group’s business meeting will be followed by a traditional potluck supper and entertainment by Minot’s Rick Watson, an associate North Dakota Poet Laureate. A native of Mott, N.D., Watson is a retired professor of communications at Minot State University and a well-known singer of songs and teller of tales of western North Dakota. His poetry has appeared on the pages of “Wild Badlands,” and he was recently a featured guest on “The Great American Folk Show.”

The public is invited to attend the Oct. 8 event, and guests will be encouraged to become members of the organization.

More information about BCA and its annual meeting can be found at badlandsconservationalliance.org .

– Herald staff report

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