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Firearm antlerless deer hunting is prohibited in some Northwest Missouri counties.

For the fourth consecutive year, hunting antlerless deer with a firearm will be prohibited in four counties in Northwest Missouri.

People are restricted from hunting the animals in Andrew, Atchison, Holt and Nodaway counties because the number of antlerless deer has become limited.

Missouri Department of Conservation Agent Anthony Maupin said one reason for this was because hunters previously were allowed an unlimited number of firearm permits to hunt antlerless deer. Another reason for the prohibition is that bluetongue disease, which caused several deer to die in 2013, drastically decreased the deer population in the area.

“Some of the estimates of deer loss were over 50% in some of the counties. That was the big issue in 2013, a lot of deer died from the disease and then it’s just coupled with over harvest over the years,” Maupin said.

The four area counties once again join a cluster of counties in southeast Missouri, a region where the hunting of antlerless deer has been nonexistent. Maupin said harvesting numbers have grown in Andrew County, which points to a prospering deer population. There’s a possibility that firearm antlerless deer hunting could be permitted once again in the four northwest counties, but that likely won’t be determined for at least another year.

“I think deer numbers are recovering. I’m starting to hear positive things out in the field when I check with our deer hunters, but I’ll also run into some random deer hunters that’ll say, ‘I’m just not seeing the deer,’” Maupin said.

It’s likely biologists will re-evaluate deer harvesting numbers after the next deer hunting season, Maupin said. Much like waterfowl hunting, conservation department biologists re-evaluate regulations every five years, and with the prohibition on firearm antlerless deer hunting in the four northwest counties now going into its fourth season, it will likely take at least one more before biologists decide whether to open those hunting grounds to antlerless deer hunters again.

Jacob Meikel can be reached at jacob.meikel@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @NPNowMeikel.

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