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Dakota Datebook

The Big Business of Hunting


On this date in 1962, Pheasants Unlimited announced the release of 750 pheasants south of Bismarck. The organization sought to support and encourage pheasant hunting in the state. The release of the birds would replenish the population and attract hunters.

Pheasants are only one of many birds hunted in North Dakota. Other game birds include ducks, geese, and turkeys. When it comes to bigger game, the state has big horn sheep, elk, deer and moose.


The extremes of North Dakota climate can affect the wildlife. A harsh winter or a dry summer can decrease populations, but manmade improvements can help. The Department of Agriculture determined that the Conservation Reserve Program has had a positive effect. The program was established in 1985. It was intended to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and increase wildlife habitat. It’s administered by the Farm Services Agency. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from production. Farmers plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. 


The farmers can also enroll in a program that opens the land to hunters. They receive an initial payment per acre for the conservation efforts, plus annual payment for the hunting. As of 2015, there were almost 15,000 participants in the program, receiving seventy million dollars.


Hunting is big business for North Dakota. The hunters and fishermen purchase licenses that support the Game and Fish Department. They also pay taxes when they purchase equipment like ammunition and fishing tackle. This money also goes to the Game and Fish Department.


Hunting and fishing have an enormous impact on North Dakota’s economy. Sportsmen rent hotel rooms, buy gas, eat in local restaurants, and purchase supplies. Nonresident hunters bring millions of dollars into the state. Consequently, it’s realized that the investment in conservation has a positive impact on the state’s bottom line.


Dakota Datebook by Carole Butcher



Williston Herald. “Where Does the Money From Hunting and Fishing Licenses Go?” Williston ND. 7/3/2020. 

North Dakota Game and Fish. “Hunting.” https://gf.nd.gov/hunting Accessed 7/7/2020.

Bismarck Historical Society. “It Happened in Bismarck.” http://www.bismarckhistory.org/it-  Accessed 7/7/2020.

United States Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency. “Conservation Reserve Program.” https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/conservation-reserve-program/  Accessed 7/7/2020.

Environmental Working Group. “Conservation Reserve Program Payments in North Dakota. https://conservation.ewg.org/crp_byfy.php?fips=38000  Accessed 7/7/2020.

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