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No sage grouse season in North Dakota again

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota wildlife officials say the state's sage grouse population appears to have rebounded but not to levels that would warrant the resumption of a hunting season this year.

Sage grouse hunting was closed in the state in 2008 for the first time in nearly half a century after a steep drop in the bird population. Officials attribute the decline to West Nile virus.

The state Game and Fish Department says the number of males observed during a spring survey was up 15 percent over last year, but the sage grouse population remains well below management objectives.

Sage grouse in North Dakota are found primarily in the southeastern counties of Bowman and Slope.