Deer numbers down; other big game OK

RENO — Elk, antelope and big horn sheep are quite at home on the Nevada range, while deer populations continue to struggle because of habitat loss and drought, according to a new report by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The agency’s 2008-2009 big game status report, released last week, estimates 106,000 mule deer statewide, a 2 percent decline from last year.

The wildlife agency is recommending 8,588 hunting tags be issued for resident rifle deer hunters, about 500 fewer than last year. Nevada wildlife commissioners will set final tag quotas for all big game species at a meeting Saturday in Reno.

A random drawing to allocate tags is conducted in June.

Biologists estimate the number of elk at 10,900, a 14 percent increase over 2008.

Agency staff is recommending 748 resident rifle bull elk tags, 20 more than last year, and 1,374 rifle cow elk tags, an increase of 164.

Likewise, Nevada’s pronghorn antelope population is estimated at a record high 24,500, and NDOW is recommending more hunting tags in all categories.

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