Mule deer rebound continues in western North Dakota

(North Dakota Game and Fish Department)

BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department says a limited fall survey indicates another year of good mule deer fawn production in the western part of the state.

Biologists counted 2,116 mule deer in an aerial survey in October. That’s down from 2,218 last fall, but this year’s snowfall and poor ground conditions meant officials were able to survey only 18 of 24 study areas. This year’s ratio of 82 fawns per 100 does was similar to last year’s ratio of 84 per 100, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

“Overall, fawn production was good, which could lead to population growth depending on the severity of this winter,” Big Game Management Supervisor Bruce Stillings said.

The ratio of 36 bucks per 100 does was lower than last year’s 41 per 100, but still healthy and sufficient for adequate breeding, state Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams said.

The Badlands mule deer population made it through last year’s relatively mild winter fine, with spring survey numbers 22% above the long-term average.

Hunting of mule deer females was banned in North Dakota four straight seasons beginning in 2012, to help the population recover following a string of harsh winters and record-low fawn production. Restrictions have been lifted in phases since 2016.

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