North Dakota deer hunting licenses to drop 40 percent

Bismarck, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota's Game and Fish Department is making just 65,300 deer licenses available for the 2012 season, a drop of more than 40 percent from last year and the fewest licenses in nearly a quarter century.

The reduction in licenses is in response to a smaller deer population throughout the state caused by three straight harsh winters, from 2008 to 2010, Game and Fish wildlife chief Randy Kreil said Monday.

Unlike the past several years, hunters will not be able to receive more than one license for the deer gun season.

"It is expected there will be very few, if any, licenses remaining after the initial lottery,'' Kreil said.

Deer licenses in North Dakota peaked at a record 149,400 in 2008. The 65,300 being made available this year is the lowest number since 1988.

Low deer numbers are evident in all parts of North Dakota, with all but two hunting units below management goals, Kreil said. The statewide hunter success rate last year 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 deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 9 and continues through Nov. 25.

Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader, and resident gratis and nonresident landowner seasons will be available Wednesday through the Game and Fish Department's website. Paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state starting next week The deadline for applying is June 6.

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