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Wyoming Game and Fish cuts pronghorn and mule deer hunting tags due to drought and disease 

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Tom Koerner/USFWS
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The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is reducing the number of pronghorn and mule deer hunting tags for this year. Officials say it is largely due to disease and drought.

The department will be cutting 8,000 pronghorn licenses and 3,300 mule deer licenses for the 2022 hunting season. For context, 18,944 mule deer were harvested last year and 31,965 pronghorn.

The cuts are because of a deadly, viral disease called EHD, or blue tongue, said Ian Tator, the department's terrestrial habitat manager.

“We had an outbreak of blue tongue this last summer, which just means there are that many less animals available. If those animals aren't there to begin with, we're not going to issue licenses for them.”

Drought is a big factor too, especially when multiple animals are depending on the same landscape. Tator said elk will out compete mule deer and pronghorn for vegetation.

“We're trying to do everything we can to bring the mule deer population back, while at the same time reducing the overall number of mouths on the landscape,” he said.

The department is increasing elk tags this year. Tator said the hope is this will give the mule deer and pronghorn populations a chance to grow.

The reduction in pronghorn and mule deer tags will be most prevalent in northeast Wyoming where the drought is most persistent.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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