No pronghorn hunting this year

North Dakota Game and Fish biologists found the statewide pronghorn population is 37 percent lower than last year and down more than 50 percent from 2008 due to severe winter weather.

Therefore, the Game and Fish Department will not recommend a pronghorn hunting season in 2010, according to a news release.

Bruce Stillings, a big game biologist in Dickinson, said two severe winters with high adult mortality rates, followed by poor production, has dropped the statewide population estimate to 6,500 pronghorn. Since 2003, the statewide population has been at or above 10,000 animals, including two years with more than 15,000.

“We need to give these populations an opportunity to recover. Our numbers are declining with few yearlings observed due to poor production in 2009, which was the lowest documented on record, followed by last year’s tough winter,” Stillings said in a statement. “Production was better this year, but still below long-term averages in all management regions.”

Survey results indicate the northern Badlands population is doing the best, while pronghorn in the western Bowman management area are in the poorest condition.

Biologists will continue to monitor pronghorn numbers in the future. When the population returns to a level capable of withstanding a harvest, the season will reopen.

The 2010 pronghorn season will be closed to both gun and archery hunters. Applicants who have accumulated preference points will maintain their points. Individuals who have already purchased an archery license will receive a refund.