© By Othmar Vohringer
In a press release from June 1, 2009 the North Dakota Game and Fish Department announced changes to the use of Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) effective immediately.
The changes involve treestands, painballing and geocaching. The deadline to remove treestands has been extended by three weeks to Jan. 31. Scott Peterson, wildlife resource section supervisor, said extending the archery season has allowed bowhunters to hunt WMA’s later into January than previous years. “This left very little time for archers to remove tree stands,” Peterson said. “We thought it was prudent to give hunters more time to remove tree stands.”
Paintballers and geocachers do not fare as well. The Game and Fish Department announced that these activities are now prohibited on all WMA’s in North Dakota. “While these types of activities may not always create a significant impact to an individual WMA, they do create a considerable amount of unnecessary disturbance to both wildlife and wildlife habitat,” Peterson said. “They also have the potential to create competition with hunters and anglers who help pay for managing WMAs.” said Peterson.
The lion’s share of funding to purchase and maintain Wildlife Management Areas comes directly from hunters through the special excise taxes generated by the sale of firearms, ammunition and other hunting related products. The funds are distributed to the states by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each year. Peterson reasoned, and quite rightly so, that therefore hunters and fishers should be able to hunt and fish undisturbed by paintballers and geocaching activities.
I take my hat off to the North Dakota Fish and Game Department for putting hunters, fishers and wildlife habitat first. I hope that the North Dakota decision is adopted by other states and Canadian provinces with the same showing of respect toward hunters and fishers who finance the bulk for the management of WMA’s and other public lands.
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Tags: North Dakota, Fish and Game Department, Hunters, Geocaching, Paintballing, New WMA Regulations, In North Dakota Hunters come first