GRAND FORKS -- The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is offering more elk licenses and slightly fewer moose licenses this fall, the department said Wednesday. Applications for the state’s elk, moose and bighorn sheep seasons now are available on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov. The deadline to apply is March 25.

A total of 523 elk licenses are available to hunters this fall, an increase of 45 from last year.

Game and Fish is offering 474 moose licenses, a decrease of five from last year. Hunting units M1C and M4 will remain closed because of a continued downward trend in moose numbers in the northeastern part of the state.

As outlined in the 2020-21 chronic wasting disease proclamation, hunters who shoot an elk in units E2 and E6, or a moose in units M10 and M11, cannot transport the whole carcass including the head and spinal column outside of the unit.

A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2020, depending on the sheep population. The status of the bighorn sheep season will be determined Sept. 1, after the Game and Fish Department completes its summer population surveys. The season was closed in 2015 because of a bacterial pneumonia outbreak.

Bighorn sheep applicants must apply for a license at the same time as moose and elk but not for a specific unit. Once total licenses are determined for each unit in late summer, the bighorn lottery will be held and successful applicants contacted to select a hunting unit.

Because the bighorn sheep application fee is not refundable per state law, if a bighorn season is not held, applicants would not receive a refund.

Elk, moose and bighorn sheep lottery licenses are issued as once-in-a-lifetime licenses in North Dakota. Hunters who have received a license through the lottery in the past are not eligible to apply again for that species.