Game and Fish Addresses Decline in Deer Population - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Game and Fish Addresses Decline in Deer Population

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The Game and Fish Department is addressing a decline in the state's deer population. And they're asking hunters and landowners for help.

Seven years ago, North Dakota's deer population was at an all-time high. In 2007, the Game and Fish Department issued more than 149,000 licenses for the regular gun season, and virtually no one was turned away. But now, the population is the lowest it's been since 1983.  And last year, the department only issued 59,000 licenses, leaving 40,000 hunters without a tag to fill.

"We've had three difficult winters, 2008, 2009, 2010. And we took an aggressive approach trying to reduce deer numbers,  because were hearing that the 150,000 license level and that population, to sustain that was too high. It was causing problems for people in a variety of ways," says Wildlife Division Chief Randy Kreil, North Dakota Game and Fish.

Habitat is also a concern. Kreil says tree rows are being removed, wetlands are being burned and drained, and native prairie is being converted for agricultural production. Deer are also affected by the loss of nearly 2,000 acres of CRP.

"It's a different challenge now than it was in 1983. Prior to 1983, we didn't have CRP on the landscape. People were used to lower deer numbers. People were used to going without a deer license. But they're not used to that anymore. They're used to deer hunting. And the tradition has grown. The number of people who want to participate has leveled off at about 100,000. And it's stayed there," says Kreil.

The Game and Fish Department has scheduled public meetings across the state to discuss concerns. And they're asking hunters and landowners for their input.

"We're not coming in with any preconceived notions, although we've been thinking of this for several years that someday we may end up in this position. But, we're not going to prejudge the process. We want to hear what people have to say, and we want to listen real close to what they think would be a fair way to approach this," says Kreil.

The department's goal is to build the deer population, so that every hunter has a chance to get a license.

Kreil says they hope to have a final decision on how they will proceed by early April. And they hope to implement it in time for this year's deer drawing.

 

Deer Management Meetings
Meetings begin at 7 p.m. local time.

Feb. 17 – Devils Lake, Lake Region Community College Auditorium

Feb. 17 – Casselton, City Fire Hall

Feb. 18 – Dickinson, Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge

Feb. 18 – Anamoose, Community Center

Feb. 24 – Tioga, Farm Festival Building

Feb. 24 – Fordville, Community Center

Feb. 25 – Bismarck, North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Feb. 25 – Jamestown, The Bunker

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