Aerial observations during the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s fall mule deer survey indicated production was the lowest since the demographic survey began in 1954.
Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor in Dickinson, said observers who accompanied pilots in fixed-wing planes counted 1,055 (1,613 in 2010) mule deer in the October survey. While the buck-to-doe ratio of 0.47 (0.45 in 2010) was similar to the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.59 (0.72 in 2010) was the lowest on record, and was well below the long-term average of 0.93 fawns per doe.
“Three straight years of record low production and another severe winter in the forecast makes additional license cuts likely in 2012,” Stillings said.
The fall aerial survey, conducted specifically to study demographics, covers 24 study areas and 306 square miles in western North Dakota. Biologists survey the same study areas in the spring of each year to determine a population index.