By Doug Leier
Many people are a little surprised and often enlightened when they visit with a North Dakota game warden and learn more about the people behind the badge. A hunter may not realize the time and resources spent in service training and administrative/safety requirements.
Anglers know wardens are checking for over limits and license compliance, but the most citations are issued for safety violations, such as not having enough life jackets on board.
Chief game warden Scott Winkelman provides some insight into the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s enforcement division when assessing the past year:
There were numerous challenges encountered by the men and women game wardens, but they continued to do what they do best, face those challenges and find ways to succeed. Staffing issues and open districts creating an increased workload, supply shortages, and learning and enforcing new laws and regulations were all met head on by some of the best, most professional law enforcement officers in the state. I cannot thank the game wardens and staff enough for all their hard work and exceptional service to those who enjoy North Dakota’s fish and wildlife.
One of the highlights of 2021 for the enforcement division included all the positive, impactful contacts game wardens and staff made throughout the year. Daily, face to face contact and communication is so important for the Game and Fish Department, hunters, anglers, trappers, recreational boaters and landowners.
Game Wardens made 51,110 field contacts in 2021. This number does not include all the people met and visited with at sport shows, the state fair, local wildlife club meetings, school programs, hunter safety classes, trunk or treats, or Christmas toy drives. Sure, issuing citations to protect our resources and make sure everyone stays safe is an important part of the job, but so are building relationships, answering questions and promoting North Dakota and its tremendous outdoor opportunities.
Hopefully, many of you have enjoyed the excellent articles written by Department game wardens starting in 2021. The Behind the Badge stories are found on the Department’s website (gf.nd.gov) and Facebook page, providing a glimpse into the life of a game warden and things they are doing in their communities. If not, I encourage you to take a look and learn more about things being done in the enforcement division, both now and into the future.
INCIDENTS 2021 – TOP 10 COUNTIES
(An incident is defined as any situation that requires a response from a game warden. It does not have to be a crime. The situation could be, for example, a stranded angler.)
· Ramsey – 325
· McLean – 222
· McKenzie – 206
· Burleigh – 182
· Williams – 181
· Richland – 165
· Cass – 158
· Morton – 148
· Mountrail – 139
· Mercer – 122
CITATIONS 2021 – TOP 10 COUNTIES
● Ramsey – 399
● Williams – 132
● Benson – 125
● McLean – 107
● Bottineau – 92
● LaMoure – 92
● Mercer – 91
● McKenzie – 89
● Pembina – 88
● Stark – 78
Leier is an Outreach Biologist with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.
Featured Photo: Wardens had more than 51,000 contacts with sportsmen throughout North Dakota in 2021. NDG&F Photo.