North Dakota Department of Natural Resources


In North Dakota, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department (“Department”) is the state agency that protects, conserves, and enhances fish and wildlife populations and their habitat for sustained public consumptive and appreciative use.  The governor appoints the director of the game and fish department.  The director holds office for a term of four years after the governor’s election and until a successor is appointed and qualified.  The director is subject to removal by the governor for cause only[i].

The salary of the director must be within the amount appropriated for salaries by the legislative assembly.  The director must be reimbursed for the necessary expenses incurred by the director in the performance of the director’s duties.  The director’s salary and expenses must be paid out of the game and fish fund and must be audited and paid in the same manner as the salary and expenses of other state officers.

The Department established a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy that helps in conserving fish and wildlife species and their habitats in North Dakota before they become more rare and costly to protect.  The Department also established a North Dakota Wildlife Action Plan that identifies and focuses on 100 species most in need of conservation, although nearly all wildlife and key habitats in the state are addressed.  The Wildlife Action Plan is essentially a habitat-based approach to prevent North Dakota’s rare or declining wildlife from becoming endangered.  Most of the species on the list of “Species of Conservation Priority” are nongame, although a few declining game species such as Greater Sage Grouse and Northern Pintail are included.  Nongame wildlife, those species not hunted or fished, in the past have received little financial support, although many have benefited indirectly from programs designed to enhance game species.

The State Wildlife Grant Program provides funding to North Dakota and all other states to implement the Wildlife Action Plan.  Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities under the authority of the Game and Fish Department are governed by State Laws (North Dakota Century Code), regulations, and the North Dakota Administrative Code.

All income of the Department deposited by the director with the state treasurer is credited to the state game and fish fund and the fund may be used only by the Department. All money derived from the investment of the fund, special accounts, or portions of the fund is credited to the Department private land habitat and access improvement fund.  The Department spends money in the game and fish fund within the limits of legislative appropriations, only to the extent the balance of the fund is not reduced below fifteen million dollars, unless otherwise authorized by the budget section[ii].

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

[i] N.D. Cent. Code, § 20.1-02-01.

[ii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 20.1-02-16.1.