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Late snow affects North Dakota pronghorn season

From the North Dakota Game and Fish Department 

-- A long, harsh winter followed by two major snowstorms in late March and a cold, wet spring means fewer pronghorn licenses available for this fall’s hunting season compared to last year.

A total of 2,361 licenses are available for 2009, down 49 percent from 4,631 licenses in 2008. The total consists of 1,531 any-pronghorn licenses and 830 doe/fawn licenses.

“We had a long winter with snowfall occurring in mid-November and staying through mid-April,” said Bruce Stillings, big game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Dickinson. “Significant snowfall of approximately 75-100 inches fell across the majority of the pronghorn range, and at least three freezing rain events occurred creating a crusty layer on the surface of the snow.”

Included were two major snowstorms in late March, when 36 inches of snow fell in the extreme southwestern corner of the state. “These late snowstorms included temperatures near zero, which are extremely hard on already weakened animals,” Stillings said. “In addition, a snow/rainstorm occurred in the western part of the state on June 6. Newborn fawns would have been a few days to two weeks of age and very vulnerable to hypothermia.”

Game and Fish biologists surveyed more than 16,000 square miles, 90 percent of the primary range for pronghorn in the state, in late June and early July. Statistics indicate the statewide population decreased 27 percent from last year, from an estimate of 14,000 pronghorn to 10,000 this year.

The survey also indicated the buck-to-doe ratio remains stable at 35 bucks per 100 does. However, the fawn-to-doe ratio was 49 fawns per 100 does, the lowest ever documented in North Dakota.

Aerial surveys indicate a healthy pronghorn population in the northwestern corner of the state, and in the Washburn area. Therefore, hunting units 1D and 9C are expanded to include these areas.

Online applications will be available the week of July 20 at the Game and Fish Department website, Paper applications will also be available from Game and Fish offices, county auditors and license vendors, or by calling (800) 406-6409.

The deadline for submitting applications is Wednesday, Aug. 5. Mailed applications must be postmarked before midnight. Hand-delivered applications are due at the department’s Bismarck office by 5 p.m. Applications should be mailed early because some post offices use the following day’s postmark if received after office hours.

Only North Dakota residents are eligible for pronghorn gun licenses. Archery season is open to residents and nonresidents. Gun season dates are Oct. 2 (noon) – Oct. 18. Pronghorn bow season runs Sept. 4 (noon) – Oct. 4.

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