BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is beginning a series of eight public meetings this week to talk about management of the state's deer population, but the agency's wildlife chief says officials won't have a lot of answers for hunters.

The state's deer population has declined dramatically in less than a decade due to harsh winters, leading to a 30-year low in available licenses last year. About 40,000 hunters tried but failed to get a license for last fall's season.

"It became clear we needed to have a conversation with the public at special meetings just about deer, deer management and deer license allocations," Wildlife Chief Randy Kreil told The Bismarck Tribune.

Meetings were scheduled Monday in Devils Lake and Casselton, Tuesday in Dickinson and Anamoose, Feb. 24 in Tioga and Fordville and Feb. 25 in Bismarck and Jamestown. They include an overview by state officials of the current deer population and prospects for the future, and time for public input on possible options for changes in the way hunting licenses are allocated.

"We don't have a preferred alternative," Kreil said.

Any changes to the current deer licensing system likely won't take place until the following year, since recommendations for the 2014 deer season have to be submitted to the governor for approval by April.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,