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Bighorn sheep numbers increase in western ND

MEDORA, N.D. (AP) -- Many big game populations in western North Dakota are at low levels, but bighorn sheep are bucking the trend.

The state Game and Fish Department says a survey this summer showed at least 299 bighorns, up slightly from last year and just 17 below the record in 2008.

Three harsh winters beginning in 2008 hurt many wildlife populations, but big game biologist Brett Wiedmann says sheep numbers remained stable. He says the current population includes a good number of young rams, which could lead to increased hunting opportunities in future years as the animals reach maturity.

Game and Fish this year reduced the number of sheep licenses from six to four because of a decline in the number of mature rams. The season is Oct. 26 through Nov. 8.