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N.D. mule deer population down slightly

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota's Game and Fish Department says the western mule deer population has dropped slightly for a second consecutive year.

The wildlife agency held its annual spring mule deer survey in April. Biologists counted 2,272 deer in 291 square miles, compared to 2,483 animals last year.

Mule deer density per square mile was 7.8, a slight decrease from 8.5 in 2009.

Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s. Big game biologist Bruce Stillings says the badlands mule deer population index still remains higher than the long-term average.