Doug Leier: Reviewing Legislation Important To Outdoor Recreation
The 2015 North Dakota legislative session recently wrapped up. While the number of bills related to hunting, fishing, trapping and outdoor recreation was down somewhat from previous years, it was still a busy session as the North Dakota Game and Fish Department tracked 23 outdoors-related bills, 12 of which were passed by both chambers and signed into law.
Unless otherwise noted, the following bills will take effect this year.
House Bill 1081 – Makes available to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation up to two spring turkey, one any-elk, one any-moose, seven deer and two pronghorn licenses for youth who have been diagnosed with cancer or a life-threatening illness. In addition, this bill provides for a study, during the 2015-16 interim, of North Dakota Game and Fish Department licenses provided to entities for the purpose of fundraising.
HB 1156 – Beginning in 2016, unsuccessful applicants in the deer gun lottery may choose to donate their refund to the Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open to Sportsmen program.
HB 1158 – Effective April 1, 2016, county auditors will no longer be responsible for allocating and tracking hunting and fishing license sales within their respective counties. That responsibility will become the Game and Fish Department’s. A county auditor upon request, may continue to sell hunting and fishing licenses.
HB 1197 – Prohibits a government agency from providing funds to a nonprofit organization for the purpose of holding any interest in real property or an easement for wildlife or conservation purposes. However, this does not apply to a state government agency in partnership with a nonprofit organization if the state agency also benefits.
HB 1241 – Makes a short-barreled rifle legal for hunting.
HB 1356 – This bill clarifies Century Code language pertaining to wildlife depredation. It allows the Game and Fish director to authorize individual landowners to carry out certain hazing practices to help alleviate or prevent wildlife depredation to livestock forage supplies.
HB 1381 – Prohibits a drone from being used to intentionally harass hunters and anglers.
HB 1409 – Provides direction on finances provided through the Outdoor Heritage Fund, with $20 million available in a fiscal year and $40 million for the biennium.
HB 1456 – Encourages Congress to pass federal legislation to return federally owned uplands surrounding the Oahe Reservoir in Emmons and Morton counties above 1,620 feet mean sea level to the state of North Dakota.
Senate Bill 2017 – Appropriates $77,231,739 to the Game and Fish Department for the 2015-17 biennium. In addition, this bill also provides for one elk license available for raffle to Annie’s House at Bottineau Winter Park.
SB 2077 – Regulates criminal history record checks for Game and Fish volunteers and final applicants for employment.
SB 2093 – Guide and outfitter licenses expire March 31 if issued after March 31 of the previous year.
Introduced legislation that did not pass included two bills that would have provided more days for nonresident waterfowl hunters, a bill that would have created days at the beginning and end of the muskrat trapping season that were open to resident trappers only, and a bill that would have required North Dakota residency for three years before someone could apply for a moose, elk or bighorn sheep license.
For a complete listing of all the legislation that Game and Fish was tracking, check out the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov/legislation.