- Associated Press - Saturday, May 20, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - State wildlife officials say South Dakota’s deer population isn’t growing as fast they would like.

Andy Lindbloom, senior big game biologist with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, told The Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/2qnFyh7) that fewer fawns are being observed as surviving into adulthood and over-winter survival is low in many areas.

Department officials recently recommended reductions in deer hunting licenses and tags for the next two years to help the deer population grow. They recommended that around 18,800 buck tags be available for the 2017-18 hunting season in the East River, a 5 percent reduction from 2016. The number of doe tags would be reduced to around 12,700, a 44 percent cut since 2016.

For West River residents, recommendations would have around 16,000 buck licenses, a 2 percent drop, and around 5,800 doe licenses, a 33 percent drop. There would be almost 1,500 nonresident licenses available.

Lower deer harvest rates in 2016 also played a part in the recommendations, Lindbloom said.

East River hunters were successful about 44 percent of the time, down from 50 percent in 2015. West River hunters in 2016 saw 53 percent success, down from 60 percent in 2015.

The deer situation was particularly dire in 2016 with the largest outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease the state has seen in the last 10 years.

Around 2,300 deer were reported dead from the disease, Lindbloom said. The outbreak caused the department to pull more than 1,200 licenses and give hunters the opportunity to return their tags. About 1,800 were returned, Lindbloom said.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, http://www.capjournal.com

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