The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will be conducting aerial surveys starting on July 1st. These surveys allow the Dept. to get a feel for pronghorn heard health and dynamics. The Dept. will also check for overall fawn recruitment within the herd.

The herd numbers that come out of the surveys will help the NDGFD set permit numbers for this year’s pronghorn hunt. The surveys are expected to last for 2-3 weeks after the starting date of July 1st. During that time residents may see low flying planes and helicopters, especially in western North Dakota.

Last year, we at Ehuntr covered pronghorn numbers in North Dakota. In the late 2000’s several tough winters severely hurt the pronghorn numbers in the state. This mass die-off caused pronghorn hunting to be closed until 2014. At that point, the state only opened 4 pronghorn units to hunting. Over the years, the majority of the state’s units opened back up to pronghorn hunting and last year 1800 permits were issued.

“I wouldn’t say that we are not completely back — there are still two units that we haven’t opened up yet, south and west of the Missouri River. That’s probably the signal of when things are completely back. All in all, we’re seeing some really good things. Any time our survey indicates that a population of around 10,000 critters, that’s a good thing.”- Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams

Prior to the mass die-off, the state’s pronghorn herd could handle a sustainable harvest of roughly 4800 animals. The growth of the herd has been a slow process but the system seems to be working well. These aerial surveys play a huge part in helping the pronghorn population rebound within the state. As the herd numbers grow the Dept. expects to increase hunting permits as long as the harvest stays sustainable.

What are your thoughts on these surveys? Do you think these surveys work well for checking animal numbers? Let us know in the comments!


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