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Associated Press, Published April 29 2013

ND to see another drop in deer gun licenses

BISMARCK – The number of deer gun hunting licenses that will be made available in North Dakota this year likely will be the lowest in three decades, due largely to the tough, lingering winter that has been hard on the animals.

The state Game and Fish Department is proposing 59,500 licenses, a drop of 5,800, or 9 percent, from last year and the lowest number since 1982, Wildlife Chief Randy Kreil said during recent public meetings around the state to talk with the public about wildlife issues. The majority of the reductions will come in the northern and eastern parts of the state, according to The Bismarck Tribune and the Grand Forks Herald.

“We’re still getting reports of deer dying,” Kreil said. “Winter aerial surveys showed we need to reduce license numbers.”

Hunters will not be able to get more than one license for the deer gun season, and some might not be able to take to the field at all.

“More than 25,000 hunters didn’t get doe licenses last year. This year, it will be 35,000,” Kreil said.

The state’s deer population is still trying to rebound from three straight harsh winters beginning in 2008. Deer licenses peaked that year at just under 150,000. Last year, the 65,300 licenses made available represented a 40 percent drop from the previous year.

Despite the statewide reductions this year, the department is proposing small increases for whitetail tags in a handful of southwest North Dakota units where deer populations remain above management goals. However, Game and Fish is proposing no mule deer doe tags anywhere in the state for a second straight year and only 1,150 mule deer buck tags, a reduction of 50 from last year.

Game and Fish will submit its proposal to the governor for his approval this week.

North Dakota’s two-week deer gun hunting season is held every November.