North Dakota's wildlife has had to confront extremely challenging conditions over the past month, and January's forecast could offer much of the same. With subzero temperatures and record snowfall covering much of the state, state Game and Fish Department personnel are reminding snowmobile enthusiasts to stay clear of wildlife and its habitat so animals do not suffer additional stress.
"We haven't experienced a winter like this in a number of years, and it has caused some concern over the welfare of our wildlife species," said Greg Link, assistant wildlife chief. "Therefore, we ask snowmobile riders to observe state laws that protect wildlife and its habitat."
Running snowmobiles near, through, or around winter habitat such as thickets, cattails, and wooded areas may inadvertently scare wintering wildlife, causing them additional stress or injury.
Chief of Enforcement Robert Timian said thoughtless harassing or chasing of wildlife not only stresses animals, but is illegal. "Snowmobiles cannot be used to flush, chase or pursue wildlife," he said.
Snowmobiles can be used off an established trail while fox or coyote hunting, Timian mentioned, but chasing a coyote through cover or across an open field on a snowmobile is illegal.
Observers witnessing harassment or chasing of wildlife are encouraged to call the Report All Poachers hotline at (800) 472-2121.
Riders are encouraged to use snowmobile trails and avoid situations that could disturb wildlife. Information on the North Dakota trail system is available at the Snowmobile North Dakota Web site at snowmobilend.com.