RENO -- Nevada deer hunters will have a tougher time drawing a tag for upcoming fall hunt.
In setting quotas for this year's draw, the Nevada Commission of Wildlife last weekend reduced the number of deer tags to 14,788, down from 17,316 a year ago.
The biggest decline was in the any legal weapon resident buck hunt, where nearly 1,800 fewer tags will be allotted.
Nevada Division of Wildlife biologist Mike Cox said deer herds across the West are declining because of numerous factors, including urbanization, fires, drought and loss of habitat.
"There is no silver bullet that will result in the reversal of the current trend," he said.
Herds in northeast Nevada have been particularly hard hit by four years of drought and a harsh winter two years ago, he said.
The only increase in deer tag quotas was for the youth hunt. The commission allotted 2,750 in that category, an increase of 151 tags.
But while Nevada's deer herds may be suffering, elk are thriving.
Biologists estimate Nevada's elk population at a record 7,000.
Because of that, wildlife commissioners upped the number of elk tags by an overall 19 percent.
Most of the increase is in cow rifle tags. The commission set a quota of 1,056, up from 751 in 2002.
The commission, however, reduced resident bull tags from 480 last year to 459, despite a recommendation from the state wildlife division to issue 516 tags.
The number of tags for pronghorn antelope was set at 1,820, nearly 200 more than last year. About half of the added tags are earmarked for resident hunters who applied for the rifle buck hunt.
Low lamb production and ongoing drought in Southern Nevada resulted in a reduction of tags for desert bighorn sheep, from 122 last year to 115, NDOW said.
Six resident tags -- twice as many as last year -- were authorized for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, while 33 resident and four nonresident tags were allocated for California bighorn sheep.
Twenty-two tags were allocated for mountain goat, one more than last year.
The deadline to apply for hunt tags was in April. The draw will be held next month, with results posted by June 20.