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Deer die-off leads to reduced hunting plan

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has given initial approval to limiting how many mule deer and white-tailed deer hunters will be able to kill following a deer die-off that has reduced populations.

The agency on Thursday approved the plan to allow hunting only mature male mule deer throughout Montana, and only male white-tailed deer in three eastern Montana regions.

The agency would eliminate tags that allow hunters to kill deer without antlers, which are usually females. About 30,000 such tags were issued last year.

The agency is accepting public comments on the plan, and will likely make a decision in February.

Officials say deer populations have been hard hit by an outbreak earlier this year of epizootic hemorrhagic disease and bluetongue. Both diseases are transmitted to deer by sandmites.

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