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ND lowers license numbers, online apps now available

From North Dakota Game and Fish Department

-- North Dakota’s 2012 deer season is open for license applications with 65,300 licenses available to hunters this fall, 44,650 fewer than last year and the lowest since 1988.

The deer gun season opens Nov. 9 at noon and closes Nov. 25. Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader and resident gratis and nonresident landowner seasons are available online.

Paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state the week of May 14. The deadline for applying is June 6.

Randy Kreil, wildlife chief, said the decline in the deer population is a result of increased adult mortality and reduced fawn production following the severe winters of 2008-10. In addition, the extreme winter conditions followed nearly a decade of aggressive deer management featuring large numbers of antlerless licenses in many units.

“It is expected there will be very few, if any, licenses remaining after the initial lottery,” Kreil said. “Therefore, there is not a concurrent season this year.”

Hunters are able to draw one license for the deer gun season and one for the muzzleloader season, and purchase an archery license. Unlike the past several years, however, Kreil said a hunter will not be able to receive more than one license for the deer gun season.

Low deer numbers are evident in all portions of North Dakota, Kreil said, as all but two hunting units are below management goals. The statewide hunter success rate in 2011 was 52 percent, the lowest on record and well below the typical 70-75 percent success rate experienced by North Dakota deer hunters.

“The large decrease of licenses in 2012 is necessary to allow the deer population to grow toward management goals,” Kreil said.

The mule deer population in the badlands was also stung by three consecutive harsh winters, with the three lowest years of fawn production observed from 2009-11. Survey numbers indicate mule deer in the badlands are down 23 percent from last year and 52 percent below 2007.

As a result, no antlerless mule deer licenses are available for the 2012 deer season in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F, Kreil said. “This restriction applies to regular gun, resident and nonresident any-deer bow, gratis and youth licenses,” he added.

Total deer licenses are determined by harvest rates, aerial surveys, deer-vehicle collision reports, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

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