As you may know the North Dakota Legislature only meets every other year. They will meet in 2019. Inevitably, a couple dozen or more bills will be introduced seeking changes to North Dakota's hunting and fishing regulations -- many of these will target non-residents directly. If you are a non-resident hunter or angler this is not good news, as these bills generally seek to further restrict your hunting/fishing opportunities or seek to extract more $$ from your pockets to do so. In the past such bills have imposed quotas on the number of waterfowl hunters, implemented the "waterfowl zone system" which continues to confound everyone living in or visiting the state, raised license fees, sought to impose a special non-resident "duck tag" system requiring you to head back to a sporting goods store for more tags after each successful hunt etc.....you get the picture.
History dictates that non-residents, despite funding much of our state's Game and Fish operation, hold little sway over state legislators or the Governor -- they have North Dakota voters with which to contend. The friend in the non-resident's corner is the owner of the local gas station, bait shop, motel or small town diner -- those folks who depend on your patronage each fall to survive. Too, it's fair to say those folks in our major cities would rather have the lakes and prairie to themselves, without seeing a lot of license plates from Minnesota, Wisconsin and elsewhere. In many
respects you can't blame them -- it's human nature. So it pays to keep an eye on these bills as they work their way through the process.
On that note, please know "fairness" won't get much traction as a reason to oppose non-resident restrictions, but "supporting small-town ND businesses" will, as will facts and data which illustrate the positive economic impact that non-residents have on our state.
Our guys at North Dakota Game and Fish do a good job with the resources they are allocated, and generally don't weigh in on legislation except to provide biological or public use data. And as a handy tool, they will once again track hunting and fishing issues during the 2019 legislative session on their website. A brief description of each bill will be included, along with the bill sponsor and hearing schedule. To view each bill in its entirety you can click on the linked bill number. Here's the link -- you might want to bookmark it now : https://gf.nd.gov/legislation .
Check it periodically as bills are introduced. In 2019, the legislature will be in session from January 3, 2019, through April 26, 2019. Bills will be introduced, die in committee or be voted into law throughout the session, so don't wait until the end. Thank you for being a part of the North Dakota outdoors.
The author is a former US Fish and Wildlife
Service and US Department of Agriculture manager. In retirement he owns and
operates Prairie Smoke Ranch, located in central North Dakota, the duck hunting
hub of the northern plains. All rights reserved.