Deer season opens Friday for fewer hunters
By Kristine Kostuck
The North Dakota Game and Fish issued fewer licenses for deer season this fall. About 59,500 licenses were issued for hunters statewide. This is a large decline from the 109,950 licenses that were given in 2011. "We had to turn a lot of people away, " said Randy Kreil, the chief of the Wildlife Division at Game and Fish. "But we haven’t seen the deer population this low since 1983.
There were numerous factors in this season’s drop in deer. A combination of cold weather, disease and growth in the state has all contributed. "If we have harsh winters, like we did in 2008, 2009 and 2010, followed by late springs it has a tremendous affect on the reproductive success," Kreil said.
A small percentage of deer in the southwestern part of the state was affected by the EHD disease this year. This kind of outbreak is very common, but in previous years has claimed many deer. According to Kreil, the count for dead deer who were infected has remained the same for weeks, because of this, disease is not a main contributor to the season’s decline. He went on to say that he doesn’t attribute loss of habitat from the energy boom to be a factor either.
"However, there is the question of how large of an impact the energy boom and associated activity will have on the deer," said Kreil. The North Dakota Game and Fish is looking into this by conducting a four year study that began in 2012. The research is gathered by tracking 90 mule deer placed in areas of high, moderate and low development in the western part of the state. "This will show us the midigated measures that could reduce the numbers," said Kreil. A study like this is very important figure in deciding how many licenses will be granted the following season.