- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The number of deer hunting licenses being issued in North Dakota for the fall hunt is the lowest in nearly four decades.

The Game and Fish Department is making 43,275 licenses available for 2015, down 12 percent from last year and the lowest number since 1978.

Declining habitat and some tough winters have taken a toll on deer. Deer populations remain well below management objectives in most hunting units, and a conservative approach to hunting is needed to help with recovery efforts, state Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams said.

The biggest drops are in any-doe licenses, which are down 2,650 from last year, and any-buck licenses, which are down 1,150. Whitetail doe licenses are down 800 and whitetail buck licenses are down 650.

Mule deer populations in the badlands have increased for a third straight year, but there will still be no hunting of mule deer does again this year, for the fourth consecutive year. Biologists want the animals to recover even more before they once again allow hunters to go after females in the badlands.

The deer gun season opens at noon on Nov. 6 and continues through Nov. 22. The deadline to apply for a license is June 3.

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