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N.D. Outdoors

March 20, 2015

By Doug Leier | Guest Columnist

While it’s a long way from the nearest big game hunting season, the last month or so has had its fair share of North Dakota big game hunting news.

Harvest statistics for moose, elk and bighorn sheep came out in February, followed by 2015 moose and elk season details in early March131+49, and the State Game and Fish Department just recently released 2014 deer season figures as well.

The most notable development amongst all that information is that for the first time in more than 30 years, North Dakota will not have a bighorn sheep hunting season this year. The state’s bighorn population suffered significant mortality last summer and fall due to an outbreak of bacterial pneumonia.

Many mature bighorn rams were among the animals that succumbed to the disease.

In addition, Game and Fish biologists estimate that perhaps 30 to 40 percent of the entire bighorn population north of Interstate 94 also died. Biologists will thoroughly survey the sheep population, as they do every summer, to determine what the future might hold for North Dakota bighorns.

There is better news relating to the 2015 moose and elk seasons. Both species will have increased license numbers from last year.