North Dakota Deer News

Hunters Reminded of Big Game Transport Rules August 2, 2015 South 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.  Hunters harvesting a big game animal this fall in North Dakota deer unit 3F2 cannot transport a carcass containing the head and spinal column outside of the unit unless it’s taken directly to a meat processor. The head can be removed from the carcass and transported outside of the unit if it is to be submitted to a State Game and Fish Department district office, CWD surveillance drop-off location or a licensed taxidermist...

ND to study climate change impacts on wildlife June 14, 2015 North Dakota, INFORUM
... state game officials will include climate change in their wildlife management plans... Weather patterns also have been shown to affect mule deer populations, as winters alternate between mild and severe in response to the shifting El Nino, La Nina pattern ...

Game and Fish discusses the reduced tags in North Dakota and the effort to expand deer populations. June 3, 2015



Trying to bring deer numbers back May 22, 2015 North Dakota, Jamestown Sun
... This year's deer season is designed to get the population, particularly for whitetails, headed back in a positive direction. Game and Fish has allowed for 43,275 total licenses, 4,725 fewer than last year... Game and Fish is allocating 1,875 licenses for antlered mule deer in 2015, an increase of 525 from last year. [mule deer population is increasing in the badlands]

N.D. Game and Fish prepares for paperless licensing May 21, 2015 North Dakota, Bismarck Tribune
... A state law passed in 2013 requires licenses to be sold electronically starting April 1... It will mean vendors must have have computers and printers and, as of now, only about 100 of the vendors print online licenses for their customers ...

... the number of licenses allocated for this fall is the lowest since 1978... deer numbers are much lower than the peak population in the mid-2000s, considering we've had several severe winters since 2009, and a significant loss of habitat on the landscape throughout much of the state...

North Dakota Cuts Deer Tags Again May 7, 2015 Valley News Live
...  Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said deer populations remain well below management objectives in most units ...

Deer Season Set, Online Apps Available May 6, 2015 North Dakota, NDGF News
     North Dakota’s 2015 deer season is set, with 43,275 licenses available to hunters this fall, 4,725 fewer than last year, and the lowest number since 1978.  Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the State Game and Fish Department, said deer populations remain well below management objectives in most units, and continuing a conservative management approach is needed to help with recovery efforts.  Any-antlerless (down 2,650 from last year) and any-antlered (down 1,150) licenses make up the majority of the reduction, while antlerless whitetail (down 800) and antlered whitetail (down 650) account for the remainder.
     On a positive note, Williams said the mule deer population in the badlands increased for the third consecutive year, with numbers showing the spring mule deer index is up 24 percent from last year.  However, as was the case the past four years, there are no antlerless mule deer licenses available in units 3B1, 3B2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F. This applies to regular gun, resident and nonresident any-deer bow, gratis and youth licenses.
     The number of licenses available for 2015 includes 1,875 for antlered mule deer, an increase of 525 from last year; 828 for muzzleloader, down 104 from last year; and 187 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an increase of 53 from last year.

Mule deer does in badlands off limits for 4th straight year May 4, 2015 North Dakota, Oklahoma News
... It was the third consecutive year of a mule deer population increase of at least 15 percent, but biologists want the animals to recover even more before once again hunters go after females in the badlands...

Spring Mule Deer Count Complete April 27, 2015 North Dakota, NDGF News
... western North Dakota’s mule deer population has increased 24 percent from last year.  Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor, said the increase is a result of less severe winters the past couple of years, no harvest of antlerless mule deer during the past three deer hunting seasons, and improved fawn production. The 2015 index is 16 percent higher than the long-term average.  “In order to maintain further population growth we need to maintain a conservative management approach, with no antlerless mule deer harvest again in 2015,” Stillings said.
     Biologists counted 2,376 mule deer in 306.3 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 7.8 deer per square mile, which is up from 6.3 deer per square mile in 2014...

ND Game and Fish revisits deer license goals April 16, 2015 North Dakota, Dickinson Press
...  the department uses five key indicators--five-year average harvest rates, regional license densities, regional aerial survey data, regional hunter observation rates and biological/social factors such as disease and deer-vehicle collisions — to set license goals...

NDGF revisits deer license goals April 12, 2015 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald 
... The challenge, he said, is to set license numbers at a level that maintains the 70 percent success rate North Dakota hunters have come to expect. Habitat loss resulting from expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts, more land being developed for agriculture and the oil boom out west means the landscape no longer can support as many deer as it could in the early 2000s ...

Deer discussion dominates meeting April 12, 2015 North Dakota, Minot Daily News
...  "We are doing our best to manage that herd and build numbers back up, but it is going to take some time." ... "deer are still declining" and that "this year will see a reduction in deer tags again."  "A lot of grassland is gone. Where we used to have whitetails popping up like popcorn we're just not going to have the whitetails that we used to have," ...

Upping North Dakota hunter success rates April 9, 2015 Dickinson Press
... In addition to harvest rates and surveys, Game and Fish biologists monitor a number of other population indices to determine license numbers, as well as depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and agency field staff...

... One of the primary benchmarks that North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists use to assess deer populations and hunter satisfaction is the success rate by gun hunters...  a success rate of around 70 percent means hunters are generally satisfied ... archery license holders...  a success rate of 30 percent...

Don't count conservation out in N.D. April 6, 2015 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald
...  pronghorn antelope, mule deer buck, elk, moose and even whitetail deer licenses have been cut back from where they were in years past ... As it turned out, Measure 5 [the conservation measure] failed to galvanize anywhere near enough support...

Crookston fire, DNR team up to rescue deer stuck in Red Lake River April 2, 2015 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald 
... The men struggle to bring the boat alongside the deer, which the radio stations reported had been in the water for an estimated four hours, before helping the exhausted animal into the boat. [video below seems black but shows the rescue when played]


... Bow hunters who participated in Fargo's 2014-2015 annual wildlife management program harvested 35 deer ... Since the program started in 2006, 182 deer have been harvested...

Two Deer Test Positive for CWD March 23, 2105 North Dakota Game and Fish
... Two mule deer taken during the 2014 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. The total now stands at seven deer to test positive for CWD since 2009, and all were from the same general area within unit 3F2. “This isn’t surprising, and the number of positives coming out of the area remains low,” Grove said, while mentioning both hunters were notified of the positive results... Since the Game and Fish Department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 25,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD...

... All of the deer that have tested positive for CWD in recent years have been in the 3F2 hunting unit in southwestern North Dakota...

N.D. deer hunting success rises slightly in 2014 March 22, 2015 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald
...  Here's a look at license numbers and hunter success in the previous five years: 2009: 144,400 licenses; 85,000 deer; 59 percent success.  2010: 116,775 licenses; 67,000 deer; 64 percent success.   2011: 109,950 licenses; 57,000 deer; 52 percent success.  2012: 65,300 licenses; 34,500 deer; 63 percent success.  2013: 59,500 licenses; 32,725 deer; 55 percent success.

2014 Deer Season Summarized March 16, 2015 North Dakota, NDGF
     North Dakota deer hunters took approximately 26,300 deer during the 2014 deer gun hunting season.  The State Game and Fish Department made available 48,000 deer gun licenses in 2014, and all licenses were issued. Overall hunter success was 60 percent, with each hunter spending an average of 4.4 days in the field.  Hunter success for antlered white-tailed deer was 60 percent, and antlerless whitetail was 56 percent.  Mule deer buck success was 82 percent. No mule deer doe licenses were issued in 2014...  [Muzzle loaders took 356, archers took 6,046 for a total of 32,702]

Elk and Moose Seasons Set, No Bighorn Sheep Season March 3, 2015 North Dakota, NDGF
     North Dakota’s elk and moose hunting seasons are set with more licenses available in 2015 than last year. However, the bighorn sheep hunting season will be closed for the first time since 1983.  A total of 301 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 40 from last year....

Fish, wildlife managers weigh in on mild winter February 19, 2015 North Dakota, Dickinson Press
...  deer and other critters are utilizing a lot of energy from feed sources to bedding areas,” he said. “They’re able to move freely, conserve a lot of energy, and it puts them into good shape going into spring.”  That’s apparent in the low number of depredation complaints from farmers about animals raiding feed supplies ...

Wolf bill, pronghorn hunters, bowhunters, elk, moose and deer February 14, 2015 North Dakota, Grand Forks Herald
... Hunter success during last fall's limited pronghorn hunting season in North Dakota was 89 percent, the state Game and Fish Department reports.  The first open season since 2009 ...

2014 Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Elk Harvests February 13, 2015 North Dakota, NDGF News
     Harvest statistics released by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department show overall hunter success during the 2014 season for bighorn sheep was 100 percent, 88 percent for moose and 67 percent for elk.  The department issued four bighorn sheep licenses and auctioned one. All five hunters harvested a bighorn ram.  The department issued 110 moose licenses last year. Of that total, 106 hunters harvested 93 animals – 82 bulls and 11 cows/calves. One additional license was raffled by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the hunter was successful in harvesting a moose.

Pronghorn Hunters Successful in 2014 February 13, 2015 North Dakota, NDGF News
     Hunter success during last fall’s limited pronghorn hunting season was 89 percent, according to statistics provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
The first open season since 2009 was held only in unit 4-A, the far southwestern corner of the state. Game and Fish issued 249 licenses, and 235 hunters took 210 pronghorn, consisting of 199 bucks, five does and six fawns.

GFP Commission Adopts Licenses for Special Buck Season January 16, 2015 GFP News
      The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission adopted the number of 2015 special buck licenses.  The number of resident licenses available for the West River deer season is 500. There are also 500 nonresident licenses available for West River. The number of resident-only licenses for the East River deer season is 556.  For more information on this hunting season, please visit: http://gfp.sd.gov/hunting/big-game/deer/special-buck.aspx.

Looking back through the year of 2014 December 31, 2014 North Dakota,  Dickinson Press
... In early January, Game and Fish also announced a series of special “deer management” meetings across the state. The meetings were an effort to start a discussion on the state’s declining deer population and what options might be available to more fairly distribute available licenses ...

Reviewing 2014 with an outdoors twist December 31, 2014 North Dakota, INFORUM
... In 2014 Game and Fish allocated 48,000 deer gun season licenses, the fewest since 1980. That compares to more than 140,000 licenses available as recently as 2008...

Keeping things in perspective December 25, 2014 North Dakota, The Bismarck Tribune 
... deer numbers have dropped to the point where many hunters aren’t getting deer licenses... In 1941, it was estimated that North Dakota’s deer population was between 7,000-8,000 animals... The first year there was a huntable population of pronghorns afterward came in 1951...

Outcry causes Game and Fish to drop deer license proposal December 21, 2014 North Dakota, Northland Outdoors
... The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has dropped a proposal to limit deer hunters to one deer license next fall, in part because of an outcry of opposition during the public input process...

Wildlife Impacted by Bakken Shale Play December 21, 2014 North Dakota, Examiner
... The bison, antelope and mule deer that once roamed the Badlands of the Dakotas are now replaced by trucks, roughnecks and outright general chaos, according to North Dakota Wildlife Federation Mike McEnroe...  one of the biggest short term impacts from the oil boom is habitat fragmentation... 

Game and Fish to Maintain Current Deer License System December 18, 2014 North Dakota, 
     The State Game and Fish Department has decided to not implement its proposal to limit deer hunters to only one license for the 2015 season... In 2014 Game and Fish allocated 48,000 deer gun season licenses, compared to more than 140,000 licenses as recently as 2008...  the decision involved several factors, including substantial public input both for and against the proposal, and significant costs needed to put the new system in place...

Dakota, Valley News Live 
... Game and Fish drafted the proposal based on public input and comments following eight special deer meetings held in February 2014. The meetings were set up to encourage public input on options for changing the way deer licenses are distributed, because of a significant reduction in the state's deer population...

It's not easy keeping up with cavalcade of fall outdoors data, mule deer December 10, 2014 North Dakota, In-Forum
... Biologists counted 1,969 mule deer in the survey this past October, up from 1,761 in 2013. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.50 (0.46 in 2013) was slightly above the long-term average, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.95 (0.74 in 2013) was the highest since 1999, and above the long-term average of 0.90 fawns per doe...

Hunters Weigh In on Deer Tags December 3, 2014 North Dakota, The Bismarck Tribune
... The new North Dakota Game and Fish Department one-tag-per-hunter proposal dominated discussion ... Harsh winters and decreased habitat have led to a decline in the deer population...

Deer licensing may draw lively debate December 2, 2014 North Dakota, The Bismarck Tribune
... A series of harsh winters and the loss of habitat has led to a major decline in the deer population ... Only 48,000 licenses were issued during this past deer guns season, leaving about 30,000 hunters who applied without a tag... [next year] roughly 23,000 deer licenses — close to half of this year’s total — not a part of the unitized management system. ...

Drayton, ND, family brings reindeer to Santa in Fargo December 2, 2014 North Dakota, Prairie Business
... the Hoselton Reindeer Ranch near Drayton, 36 miles south of the Canadian border ... the only reindeer farm in North Dakota ... “I consider them more as pets than anything else,” ...

A tradition continues, deer licenses fall November 16, 2014 North Dakota, Minot Daily News
... In 2008 the state issued 149,500 deer gun licenses. By 2010 the number had dropped to 117,000 and by 2012 to 65,000. Only 48,000 deer gun licenses were issued this year. Those 48,000 were further reduced by the issuance of 13,065 landowner gratis tags, leaving 34,945 licenses available by lottery to the state's deer gun hunters. It is the smallest number of deer licenses issued in 30 years...

One-deer proposal is questionable November 12, 2014 North Dakota, The Bismarck Tribune 
... the fewest hunters in the field since 1980 ... Three consecutive harsh and especially brutal winters on the Northern Plains, combined with 2 million acres previously in the Conservation Reserve Program now tilled and back into production agriculture, have significantly affected deer numbers...

Game and Fish to Recommend One Deer License in 2015 November 6, 2014 North Dakota, NDGF News
     A new plan under consideration by the State Game and Fish Department would allow North Dakota deer hunters only one license per year, starting with the 2015 season.  The preferred license distribution plan is the result of a declining deer population and continuing high license demand. “This year we had about 30,000 people who applied for a deer gun license and didn’t get one in the lottery,” said Game and Fish wildlife division chief Jeb Williams. “This new system will give more people an opportunity to hunt deer each year, compared to our current system.”

Fall Mule Deer Survey Completed November 5, 2014 North Dakota, NDGF News
 ... Biologists counted 1,969 (1,761 in 2013) mule deer in the aerial survey in October. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.50 (0.46 in 2013) was slightly above the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.95 (0.74 in 2013) was the highest since 1999, and above the long-term average of 0.90 fawns per doe.  “Overall, this year’s fawn production is very encouraging, and with average-to-good survival should result in another increase in the spring,” said Bruce Stillings, big game management supervisor, Dickinson.
     While it is encouraging to see mule deer numbers increase for the short-term, Stillings said challenges remain for continued population growth, including changes in habitat quality due to fragmentation and disturbance, predators and weather.  The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306.3 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine population abundance.

... We have a declining deer population and an increasing human population of individuals that would like to participate in the outdoors, and a lot would like to participate in the deer gun lottery ... Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck ...

Disease monitor in deer continues October 30, 2014 North Dakota, The Bismarck Tribune
... The Game and Fish Department will continue its hunter-harvested surveillance program this deer season by testing for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis... the focus of the surveillance will be in the central part of the state ...  with the downturn in the state’s deer population, Grove said it’s possible there have been other deer that have died as a result of CWD, but not reported...  the deer density in that part of the state is about eight animals per square mile ...

... five deer have been shot, killed, and abandoned.  Four were found near Strasburg a couple weeks ago, and the most recent was found Tuesday night southwest of Streeter ... $500 reward for information ... 

2010-2014 Deer Population Information October 29, 2014 North Dakota, RoundupWEB 
... The new five-year goal is for a statewide deer population that would provide 124,800 deer gun licenses... The new five-year goal is about a 25 percent increase over the goal established in 2005 ... Game and Fish wildlife managers determined that a somewhat higher deer population could still strike a balance between hunter interest, landowner tolerance and public acceptance...

All Deer Gun Licenses Issued October 29, 2014 North Dakota, NDGF News
     The 48,000 deer gun licenses that were allocated by proclamation for the 2014 hunting season have all been issued, according to Randy Meissner, licensing manager for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.  Meissner said according to state law, the number of deer gun licenses issued, including those licenses issued as gratis, cannot exceed the number of licenses authorized by the governor’s proclamation.  “This is the first time in more than a decade that all licenses were issued before opening day,” Meissner said...

State can celebrate 125 years of wildlife October 23, 2014 North Dakota, Bismarck Tribune
... In 1915 ...  North Dakota’s deer were nearing extinction...  after many years of closed seasons, the first official deer gun season was held in North Dakota in 1931. In the 20 years after that, there were several interruptions as the state allowed just 13 seasons ...  more than 140,000 licenses per year during the early 2000s...

A 'normal' deer season? October 23, 2014 North Dakota, Bismarck Tribune
... This season, only 48,000 licenses were available before the gratis tags came out of the pool. Last year, there were 59,500 licenses available. It’s the lowest number of deer licenses available in North Dakota since 1980... the population is still recovering from three straight brutal winters and the loss of CRP as well as other grassland acres in the state...

Emmons County Deer Poaching Still Under Investigation October 23, 2014 North Dakota, KFYR-TV 
...  "Taking big game illegally, the penalties can be fairly severe. You can be facing some serious jail time, serious fines, loss of equipment, hunting privileges for several years." ...
Four White-tailed Deer Shot in Emmons County October 22, 2014 North Dakota, fishingbuddy.com
... found in a bean field 1.5 miles east of Strasburg. A doe and fawn were found in a stubble field 5 miles southwest of Linton... shot late evening Oct. 11, or early morning Oct. 12... 800-472-2121 ... $1,000 reward...

Deer Season Preview October 16, 2014 North Dakota Game and Fish
    Tom Jensen interviews Jeb Wilson, new wildlife division chief, who discusses the trend in fewer deer licenses issued over the last several years as the deer population trends down.

4 Places Where Hunters Are Working to Protect Game Animals October 15, 2014 North Dakota, National Geographic
... the oil-and-gas boom is fragmenting habitats of mule deer ... That's why the Mule Deer Foundation is collaborating with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, the University of Missouri, and the North Dakota Petroleum Council to conduct an impact study to better understand what effects oil drilling may have on the state's mule deer...

Watch out for deer October 6, 2014 North Dakota, Devils Lake Journal 
... October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents... Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around...

Deer declining in state October 4, 2014 North Dakota, Jamestown Sun 
... Deer numbers are continuing a declining trend due to loss of habitat, and the deep subzero temperatures from December through March helped apply pressure to that trend ... NDGF released 48,000 deer licenses this year, 11,500 less than last year and the lowest number since 1980...

North Dakota Data: About 12,000 mule deer and 105,000 whitetails in 2014.  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 continue to be restricted in an effort to increase the population.  
     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 n 2013  to help the herd rebound. The state issued 150,000 deer tags in 2007 to reduce the population. Harsh winters and habitat loss have 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 the fewest licences in 2013 since 1983.  
      The number of licenses issued is typically targeted to provide a 70 percent hunter success rate.   Deer gun success in 2013 was 55 percent 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.
     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 and with 2,900 taken by hunters.  The state issued 41,000 licences in 1951 then closed the season again in 1952.  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 5,700 pronghorn in 2014, hunting had been closed since 2009 due to the small population but reopened in some areas in 2014. Once abundant, only about 200 pronhorns in the 1920's.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department

North Dakota Game and Fish News