The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently released the results from its annual spring mule deer survey earlier this month and populations are growing to the tune of an increase of 21 percent.

The annual survey takes place each spring and is used primarily to assess the abundance of mule deer in the badlands.  The survey gets underway each spring after the snow has melted and before trees begin to leaf out, giving biologists the best aerial views possible when monitoring mule deer.

After last year’s results, wildlife biologists vowed to maintain a conservative management approach to further the mule deer population growth with three straight years without an antlerless mule deer hunt in the state.

Overall, wildlife biologists in the state of North Dakota counted 2,880 mule deer across over 300 square miles of territory for this year’s survey.

Big game supervisor Bruce Stillings believes the increase is a direct result of high adult doe survival in 2015, three consecutive years of solid fawn production and milder winter conditions.

“These factors, along with no harvest of antlerless mule deer during the past four deer hunting seasons, have resulted in mule deer numbers doubling since we experienced our low in 2012,” Stillings said.