The Great Backyard Bird Count returns 

 Millions of novice and accomplished bird watchers can make their love of nature count for science during the 22nd Annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

On Friday through Monday, anyone can count birds wherever they are and enter their results online. These reports create a real-time picture of where birds are across the continent and contribute valuable information for science and conservation.

“During the count, bird watchers tally up birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they like, keeping track of the highest number of each bird species they see together at one time,” said Eileen Dowd Stukel, wildlife diversity coordinator for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP). “People are encouraged to report birds from public lands, local parks and their own backyards.”

Participants enter their numbers online at http://gbbc.birdcount.org/get-started/ where they can explore sightings maps, lists and charts as the count progresses.

During the 2018 count, South Dakota counters reported 82 species on 255 checklists. The highest species counts in the state were for Canada goose, mallard, horned lark, and red-winged blackbird. Hughes County had the highest number of species at 44, with Brookings, Yankton, Lawrence, and Clay counties not far behind.

There is no fee to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The event is led by the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada.

Nebraska archery paddlefish applications accepted

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will accept archery paddlefish permit applications March 1-14.

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The application period begins at noon Mountain Time on March 1. Mail applications must be received in Game and Parks’ Lincoln office by 4 p.m. and online applications must be received by 10:59 p.m. on March 14.

A nonrefundable $7 fee is due at the time of application. The remaining fee to be paid if a permit is awarded – $26 for residents or $50 for nonresidents – is due within 15 days of draw notification. A valid phone number and email address are required.

Permits will be issued in a random drawing based on preference points earned; applicants with the most preference points will receive the greatest priority. Any permits remaining following the drawing will be sold on a first-come basis beginning at 1 p.m. on May 1.

An applicant will receive a preference point if he or she is not awarded a permit in the drawing. An additional preference point will be added each year he or she is unsuccessful in the drawing. Any person who is issued a paddlefish permit and any person who does not apply at least once during five consecutive years will lose all accumulated preference points.

The 2019 archery paddlefish season is June 1-30. 

Wyoming winter snow means more fish in spring

According to the Wyoming State Climate Office, by early February the Laramie River drainage was at 105 percent of normal snowpack and the Upper North Platte River drainage was at 108 percent. “Overall, we’re in better shape than this same time last year, which resulted in drought-like conditions last summer” said Bobby Compton, fisheries supervisor for the Laramie Region. “The snowpack in southeast Wyoming is solid and we hope spring snows keep it up.”

In 2018, the North Platte River drainage was at 85 percent and Laramie River drainage was at 106 percent. Even though the Laramie River drainage was above normal early last year, the lack of springtime snow resulted in drought conditions within the drainage. “This shows how important the spring snows are,” Compton said.

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.