North Dakota Deer:  An estimated population of 130,000 deer in 2016, up from 126,000 deer in 2015 with some recovery in the mule deer population.   About 117,000 in 2014 when populations were near a 30 year low.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical North Dakota deer hunting data and news archive.
North Dakota Deer News

DAPL deer poachers identified March 10, 2017 North Dakota, Minot Daily News
... Warrants for arrest have been issued for four men for poaching deer in or near the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp near the mouth of the Cannonball River...
  Deer poaching charges filed in Dakota Access protest camp incidents  March 9, 2016  North Dakota, Bemidji Pioneer
... Charges have been filed in connection with two deer poaching incidents that occurred in November and December in or near the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp in Morton County ...  the men likely have left the state ... [video]

2016 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests March 6, 2017 North Dakota, NDGF News
     ... overall hunter success during the 2016 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 97 percent for moose and 56 percent for elk... A total of 200 moose licenses were issued last year. Of that total, 192 hunters harvested 187 animals – 121 bulls and 66 cows/calves... The department issued 348 elk licenses last year. Of that total, 324 hunters harvested 179 elk – 102 bulls and 77 cows/calves.., 

Winter may not have been so harsh for wildlife March 5, 2017 North Dakota, INFORUM
...  December, with its triple-whammy of cold, snow and wind ... No doubt there were losses to high-profile species such as deer and pheasants.  "Not very often can you say thank goodness for January and February, but that was kind of the case this year," ...  feared a repeat of severe winters such as 1996-97 and 2009-10 ...

Find out how the 2017 moose, elk and bighorn sheep seasons are looking in this week's webcast with wildlife division chief Jeb Williams. - March 3, 2017 North Dakota


State department tracks chronic wasting disease February 23, 2017 North Dakota, Bismarck Tribune
... the total now stands at just nine deer to test positive for CWD since 2009, and all were from within unit 3F2... Since the Game and Fish Department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 30,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD...

This winter started out fairly rough but has mellowed considerably since December. February 16, 2017 North Dakota


Our massive amounts of snow so far this winter are providing a nice white backdrop making it easier for big game biologists to get a better handle on the state’s deer herd. - February 6, 2017 North Dakota


...  House Bill 1204 ...would reduce the minimum age from 16 to 12 for someone who doesn’t possess a hunter safety course certification of completion ... youth who turn 11 ... deer permit valid for only youth hunting season ...

Two Deer Test Positive for CWD January 23, 2017 North Dakota, NDGF News
     A mule deer doe and a mule deer buck taken during the 2016 deer gun season from unit 3F2 in southwestern North Dakota have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the State Game and Fish Department.  Since 2009, the total now stands at nine deer to test positive for CWD and all were from within unit 3F2...

2016 in Review, Mule Deer Continue Rebound January 2017 North Dakota, NDGF News
... The mule deer population continues to recover following the devastating winters of 2008-11, with its third consecutive year of fawn production near or above the long-term average.  From 2012-15, Game and Fish did not issue any antlerless mule deer licenses in eight badlands hunting units....

Wildlife Feeding Concerns January 9, 2017 North Dakota, NDGF
... Providing feed such as corn, which is high in sugar and starch, can lead to acidosis, rumentis and ultimately death.  ... “One alternative to feeding wildlife is for individuals, landowners or wildlife clubs to plow open areas of harvested grain or row crop fields to allow animals to gain access to waste grains ...These areas are also the first areas to melt off when we get a break in the weather.” ...

Wildlife species face harsh winter January 8, 2017 North Dakota, Aberdeen News
... deer are already in survival mode which is much earlier than in most winters. Deer are already showing signs of stress, a cause of concern for wildlife biologists at a time when the state's deer herd was beginning to rebound ...

ND Game and Fish Looking for Info on Apparent Deer Poaching Incident January 4, 2017 North Dakota
     The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently obtained the accompanying video (CAUTION: This video contains some graphic images and language) and is releasing it to the public and media in an effort to get more information on this event, and to identify the individuals involved in an apparent illegal killing of a whitetail buck. Based on current information, the incident took place during the fall of 2016 on the north side of the Cannonball River west of the ND Highway 1806 bridge over the Cannonball, in the vicinity of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps.
     This raw, unedited video is approximately 7 minutes long and shows several individuals pulling a whitetail buck that was struggling in the river, to the shore and apparently killing it by stabbing it, and then holding its nose in the mud to suffocate it. 
     Anyone with information on the possible identity of any individual in this video, or any other information, is urged to contact the Game and Fish enforcement division at 701-328-6604, or call the Report All Poachers hotline at 800-472 2121, or email swinkelman@nd.gov. RAP calls are anonymous, and can lead to rewards for information that leads to convictions.


...  a lot of snow spread across a wide swath of North Dakota... We're close to being on pace with the winters of 1996-97 and 2008-09, and when you mention those two years, I just cringe because they were bad for wildlife ...

Wildlife Stressed, Snowmobile Riders Stay Clear December 30, 2016 North Dakota,  Game and Fish News
     With significant snow storms dropping record to near-record snowfall on much of the state the past several weeks, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds snowmobile enthusiasts to stay clear of wildlife and its habitat so animals do not suffer additional stress... Reports of dying or dead deer are not uncommon in tough winters, and this holds true this winter as well... Observers witnessing harassment or chasing of wildlife are encouraged to call the Report All Poachers hotline at 800-472-2121.

... “I found this doe stumbling around and falling down,” Harr said. “I noticed her face was completely covered in ice.” ...

Coyotes are 'here to stay' in North Dakota November 29, 2016 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald
... "Coyotes and fox don't get along any more than wolves and coyotes. They're very territorial and almost wiped the fox out... deer ... are feeling the impact of declines in CRP habitat that sheltered fawns from coyotes and other predators...

Deer hunting success will require walking November 23, 2016 North Dakota, Bismarck Tribune
... The department issued 49,000 licenses for this season. While that’s 5,725 more than last year, it’s a far cry from the more than 100,000 that were issued annually from 2001 to 2011...

Wildlife refuges opening to upland game hunting November 15, 2016 North Dakodta, INFORUM
... For many years, these refuges did not allow any hunting or fishing, but eventually they have incorporated some hunting, as well as fishing access, as long as those activities don't conflict with each refuge's primary purpose of providing a protected resting area for migrating waterfowl...

Hillsboro deer to be euthanized in face of regulations, costs November 12, 2016 North Dakota, 
Grand Forks Herald
... a fenced-in quarter acre of land that housed about eight whitetail deer... at the park since the late 1970s ... would either have to update the fence or euthanize the deer... Someone needs to look after the deer... "You'll never find anyone who will take better care of those deer than Ed did," ...

Fall Mule Deer Survey Completed October 31, 2016 North Dakota, NDGF
     Biologists counted 3,003 (2,157 in 2015) mule deer in the annual aerial survey in October. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.48 (0.42 in 2015) is higher than the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.90 (0.84 in 2015) is the same as the long-term average.  Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said the mule deer population continues to recover nicely following the devastating winters of 2008-10, with its third consecutive year of fawn production near or above the long-term average...

... "If you look at long-term trends for each unit and what that unit historically has been able to produce, we're losing habitat ... 49,000 deer gun tags, a slight increase from last year ... More than 102,000 people applied for deer gun, muzzleloader, youth and landowner tags, and more than 51,000 were unsuccessful ...

Mixed bag for deer hunters in North Dakota October 30, 2016 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald
... white-tailed deer numbers south and west of the Missouri River are "pretty good," and mule deer numbers in the west continue to rebound.  Farther east, the whitetail outlook is less favorable... Last year, a total of 39,470 North Dakota deer hunters took about 26,700 deer during the gun season for a success rate of nearly 68 percent...

Survey sheds light on ND deer management October 28, 2016 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald
... Historically, North Dakota hunting regulations and policy have been guided, in part, by a series of statewide public meetings Game and Fish conducts twice a year. While beneficial, the meetings sometimes are poorly attended or dominated by people with a specific agenda ...

Deer gun season is almost here. Chief Game Warden Bob Timian answers some common deer hunting questions in this week's webcast. - October 27, 2016 North Dakota


Some answers for the upcoming deer hunting season October 25, 2016 North Dakota, INFORUM
... Hunters cannot transport a carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of Unit 3F2 unit unless it's taken to a state-inspected meat processor within five days of the harvest date... Unit 3F2 is where all seven deer that have been confirmed with CWD in North Dakota since 2009 were taken by hunters...

CWD Surveillance Continues October 24, 2016 North Dakota NDGF News
     The State Game and Fish Department will continue its Hunter-Harvested Surveillance program during the 2016 hunting season, by sampling deer for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis from 13 units in North Dakota. In addition, all moose and elk harvested in the state are eligible for testing.
     Samples from hunter-harvested deer taken in the eastern portion of the state will be tested from units 1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F1, 2F2, 2G, 2G1, 2G2 and 2L. In addition, deer will be tested from unit 3F2 in the southwest.  Every head sampled must have either the deer tag attached, or a new tag can be filled out with the license number, deer hunting unit and date harvested....

Find out how this year's deer hunting seasons are looking in this week's webcast with wildlife division chief Jeb Williams. - October 20, 2016


The Department will continue its Hunter-Harvested Surveillance program during the 2016 hunting season, by sampling deer for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis from 13 units in North Dakota. In addition, all moose and elk harvested in the state are eligible for testing. Learn more in this week's webcast with Department veterinarian Dan Grove. October 13, 2016 North Dakota


... only 49,000 deer gun licenses available statewide ... deer license numbers in North Dakota are down drastically from the early to mid 2000s, when Game and Fish was under the gun from state lawmakers to reduce deer populations...

All 49,000 deer gun hunting licenses issued in North Dakota September 28, 2016 North Dakota, Washington Times
...the 49,000 deer gun licenses allocated for this year’s hunting season have all been issued...

Mountain lion predation and livestock September 25, 2016 North Dakota, CattleNetwork.com
... Of the 14 animals evaluated ... Half of the cougars had either mule deer or white-tailed deer in their system. Other native species found in the intestines included jackrabbits, porcupines, beavers, badgers, minks and other rodents. Porcupine remains were found in two of the animals and 87 percent of the cougars had porcupine quills in their skin or flesh...

North Dakota Petroleum Council Donates $10,000 to Mule Deer Foundation September 23, 2016 Private Land Conservation Efforts
... MDF worked closely with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDGF), conservation partners, and rancher Byron Richards to enroll 22,000 contiguous acres in North Dakota’s Private Lands Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program ...

Efforts implemented to battle spread of disease September 8, 2016 North Dakota, The Bismarck Tribune
... chronic wasting disease ... Across the state, hunters are prohibited from transporting into or within North Dakota the whole carcass, or certain carcass parts, of deer, elk or moose from areas within states and provinces with documented occurrences of CWD in wild populations...

...  the disease was discovered in North Dakota, in a mule deer buck taken in unit 3F2 west of the Missouri River during the 2009 hunting season. Since then seven more deer, all in unit 3F2 as well, were determined to have CWD, from among thousands of hunter-harvested deer heads tested for the disease...

... resident hunting licenses peaked at more than 110,000 in 2007, before dipping to just under 104,000 in 2011 and 96,000 in 2014.  Part of that reduction can be attributed to fewer deer gun licenses and lower pheasant populations as grassland habitat declined...

Ranchers, Wildlife Groups Create Biggest Public Access in North Dakota August 22, 2016 North Dakota, Northland Outdoors
...  the single largest public hunting access in North Dakota ... PLOTS ... Private Lands Open to Sportsmen ... 20,000 contiguous acres ... In exchange for the PLOTS payment and other wildlife contributions totaling $664,000, Richard signed a 10-year deal ...

Hunters Reminded of Big Game Transport Rules August 15, 2016 North Dakota, NDGF News
     Big game hunters are reminded of requirements for transporting deer, elk and moose carcasses and carcass parts into and within North Dakota as a precaution against the possible spread of chronic wasting disease...  2016-2017 Chronic Wasting Disease Proclamation

... The exact size of the state's lion population isn't known ... North Dakota launched its inaugural lion hunting season in 2005 ... the number of lions in the state's prime cougar habitat of the western Badlands has been declining in recent years ...

... 49,000 licenses are available to hunters, 5,725 more than last year...  population and harvest data indicate the state's deer population is stable to increasing, primarily due to seven years of reduced gun licenses combined with recent mild winters...

... “It was actually a grassroots effort by deer hunters -- by people who said, ‘You know, I don’t need my refund back. I’d just as soon donate it back to the department." ... The money will go toward the Private Land Open to Sportsmen program, called PLOTS...

Deer licenses reflect good management May 9, 2016 North Dakota, Bismarck Tribune
... After seven years of reduced licenses, last year saw the lowest number of licenses issued in 40 years, and with better weather, the deer numbers have rebounded... 

... during the 2015-2016 season, 37 deer were harvested, the second highest in the 10-year history of the bow hunt... 

Deer Season Set, Online Apps Available May 4 May 3, 2016 Nort Dakota, NDGF News
     North Dakota’s 2016 deer season is set with 49,000 licenses available to hunters this fall, 5,725 more than last year.  Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said population and harvest data indicate the state’s deer population is stable to increasing, primarily due to seven years of reduced gun licenses combined with mild winters....

North Dakota Mule Deer Survey. Reduced doe tags over the past four years have helped increase the deer population. - May 4, 2016


North Dakota's Western Treasure April 30, 2016 Minot Daily News
... Theodore Roosevelt National Park ... The list of wildlife includes elk, white-tailed and mule deer, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, wild horses ... Mule deer can often be seen browsing on vegetative growth throughout both units of the park ...

North Dakota Spring Mule Deer Survey Up 21% April 25, 2016 North Dakota
...  three consecutive years of good fawn production, and overwinter survival combined with milder winter weather conditions... Biologists counted 2,880 mule deer in 306.3 square miles during this year’s survey...

North Dakota Game and Fish big game biologist Bill Jensen talks about the 2015 deer harvest. April 25, 2016


Foundation working to increase mule deer habitat April 21, 2016 North Dakota, 
The Dickinson Press
... 
The population of the North Dakota mule deer has struggled over the past five years due to the climate, loss of habitat and predation, and because of that there have been increased efforts in maintaining the population.  
“We had about three winters in a row that just decimated the wildlife in western North Dakota ...

North Dakota Data:  An estimated 130,000 deer in 2016; whitetail numbers are good south and west of the Missouri River, but lower in the east.  In 2016 102,000 applied for a deer tag, only 49,000 were issued, down from more than 100,000 from 2001 to 2011. Mule deer populations continue to recover from the harsh winters of 2008-10.  An estimate based on harvest data of 14,000 mule deer and 112,000 whitetails in 2015, a total population of 126,000.  About 12,000 mule deer and 105,000 whitetails in 2014.   Estimated 13,250 mule deer in the Badlands, the primary range, in 2015.  A 2015 spring survey of western North Dakota showed a 24 percent increase in the mule deer population of the Badlands after a few mild winters bringing the count to 2376, or 7.8 per square mile of the 306.3 square miles in the Badlands where the survey was conducted.  Mule deer anterless tags were restricted in an effort to increase the population.  Hard winters from 2010 to 2015.  In 2015 about 36,407 deer were taken by 64,382 hunters.  Hunter success rate of 68 percent in 2015 60 percent in 2014, 55 percent in  2013.
     Although the deer population rose to a recent record level in 2007, the deer population is near a 30 year low.  The number of deer tags have been reduced to 48,000 in 2014, also a 30 year low,  and 59,500 in 2013  to help the herd rebound. The state issued 150,000 deer tags in 2007 to reduce the population.  More than 140,000 deer licenses were issued in 2009.  Habitat loss has further reduced the deer herd, particularly in the northern Red River Valley.  Two million acres of land has been lost from the Conservation Reserve Program, the oil boom has disrupted habitat.  Western mule deer populations rebounded in 2013, but declined in the east.
    The continuing loss of habitat will put downward pressure on deer populations into the future.  Grasslands are needed for nesting.  Mild winters have supported deer populations in the southwest, but epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) reduced white-tail populations in the Bowman to Bismark area.. Mule deer doe tags have been restricted in an effort to boost the population.  Deer populations are below target in most of the state. The state issued 43,275 deer licenses in 2014, the fewest since 1978.  About 90,000 deer hunters in the state.  
    The number of licenses issued is typically targeted to provide a 70 percent hunter success rate.   Deer gun hunter success was 60 percent in 2014, was 55 percent in 2013 and archery success was 33 percent.  The new five year plan calls for increasing license sales to provide 124,800 deer gun licenses, about 25 percent over the 2005 goal.  
   White-tail deer in North Dakota migrate an average of 3.8 miles from winter to summer habitat. Some migrate very little.  Mule deer density in the badlands is 6.3 per square mile in 2014, 5.3 in 2013, up from 4.6 in 2012, but below the long-term aveage of 6.8. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.46 in 2013, 0.37 in 2012, and the long-term average is 0.43 -- a higher ratio and more robust herd than in some states to the west such as California. Deer populations had been rising in the early to mid 2000's. Hunting data 
     Chronic Wasting Disease has been identified in a few deer in western Grant County since 2009, two in 2013.  A total of nine through early  2017.
     In 1915 deer populations in North Dakota were nearly extinct, due to over hunting.  The state suspended deer hunting to preserve the herd until 1931.  During seven years over the next 20, seasons were closed.  In 1941, 7,000 to 8,000 deer with 2,900 taken by hunters.  The state issued 41,000 licences in 1952 then closed the season again in 1953.  The Conservation Reserve Program helped the herd grow.  During the early 2000's the state issued 140,000 licenses.
     Elk were hunted to extinction in the early part of the 1900's, reintroduced from other states in 1942.
     An estimated 5,500 pronghorn in 2015;  5,700  in 2014, hunting had been closed since 2009 due to the small population but reopened in some areas in 2014. About 2,800 in 2012. Once abundant, only about 200 pronghorns in the 1920's.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

North Dakota Game and Fish News