© 2022
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Game and Fish Born


Game and fish regulation in North Dakota dates back to Dakota Territory in 1861. Hunting restrictions began in 1875 on quail and waterfowl. By 1881, it was illegal to kill and leave any part of a big game animal on the prairie. Allowances on fishing methods also passed that year. The first game and fish occupation was fish commissioner, created in 1881. The responsibilities of the commissioner included stocking rivers and streams.

On this date in 1909, the State Game and Fish Board of Control was established. Five members originally comprised the board with term limits of four years. The positions were president, vice president, fish commissioner and two district wardens. In that same year, the legislature created the state’s first fish hatchery, in Rolette County. North Dakota’s first fishing license sold for $1.50 in 1924, though the price later dropped to fifty cents.

1931 brought the first ring-necked pheasant season and deer gun season. A 1934 proclamation prohibited pheasant hunting on Mondays and Tuesdays—“rest days.” Until 1945, hunters could shoot hen pheasants. A daily limit was seven pheasants, two which could be hens. Today the limit is three roosters.

Game and Fish established statewide deer archery in 1954, but hunter success was less than ten percent. Pronghorn archery and wild turkey seasons came in 1958. Mourning dove and sage grouse seasons started in the sixties.

The Pittman-Robertson Act and Dingell-Johnson Act revolutionized wildlife management in the ‘30s and ‘40s, with taxes on products like guns, ammo and fuel providing funds for the scientific management of wildlife. The federal funding allowed Game and Fish to improve the management of North Dakota’s wildlife through surveys, research and innovation – a far cry from the days of a lone fish commissioner.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


Trask, J.C. (1883). General laws and memorials and resolutions of the territory of Dakota. Retrieved from:

"https://books.google.com/books?id=wTlKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=dakota+territory+fish+commissioner&source=bl&ots=BD1-6KeMn6&sig=X-cex0hCT4gjdJwOWmYRRtnB4C8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjb0Ma1jM7KAhWkwYMKHSRfAR4Q6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=dakota%20territory%20fish%20commissioner&f=false" https://books.google.com/books?id=wTlKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=dakota+territory+fish+commissioner&source=bl&ots=BD1-6KeMn6&sig=X-cex0hCT4gjdJwOWmYRRtnB4C8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjb0Ma1jM7KAhWkwYMKHSRfAR4Q6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=dakota%20territory%20fish%20commissioner&f=false

United States Bureau of Biological Survey. (1915). B. S. doc. Syracuse, NY: Gaylord Bros. Retrieved from:

"https://books.google.com/books?id=VjxMAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA7&dq=nd+game+and+fish+april+1,+1909&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP7vHohc7KAhUFr4MKHU8LA6MQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=nd%20game%20and%20fish%20april%201%2C%201909&f=false" https://books.google.com/books?id=VjxMAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA7&dq=nd+game+and+fish+april+1,+1909&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP7vHohc7KAhUFr4MKHU8LA6MQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=nd%20game%20and%20fish%20april%201%2C%201909&f=false

"http://gf.nd.gov/magazines/october-2014/celebrating-125-years-outdoors" http://gf.nd.gov/magazines/october-2014/celebrating-125-years-outdoors

"http://www.history.nd.gov/archives/stateagencies/gameandfish.html" http://www.history.nd.gov/archives/stateagencies/gameandfish.html