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North Dakotan’s who want a chance to hunt elk, moose and bighorn sheep in 2020 are reminded the deadline for submitting applications is March 25.

Applicants can apply online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website. General lottery applications can also be submitted by calling 800-406-6409. Preferential landowner (gratis) applications must be submitted online.

The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after summer population surveys are completed. However, bighorn sheep applications must be submitted before the deadline. Once total licenses are determined for each unit in late summer, the bighorn lottery will then be held and successful applicants will be contacted to select a hunting unit.

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply for that species again.

Whooping Crane Migration

Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these endangered birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

The whooping cranes that do make their way through North Dakota each spring are part of a population of about 500 birds that are on their way from their wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles.

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds' activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Audubon, 701-442-5474, national wildlife refuges; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

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