BISMARCK (AP) - Reproduction of mule deer in North Dakota appears to be mired at record-low levels.
The state Game and Fish Department says biologists who took part in an aerial survey in October counted 1,224 mule deer, a slight increase from 1,055 last year. The fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.59 equaled the lowest ratio since the survey began in 1954. The long-term average is 0.92 fawns per doe.
Big Game Supervisor Bruce Stillings says mule deer densities in the Badlands haven't been this low since 1996. He says the three consecutive harsh winters beginning in 2008 were devastating to the population.
Last winter was one of the mildest on record, but Stillings says it's likely that the reproductive condition of the surviving females was still poor because of the previous three winters.