PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission has set hunting seasons that will reduce the number of deer that can be shot this fall because of losses caused by a disease.

Officials have said more than 3,000 deer died in some areas last year because of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a virus spread by a biting midge.

The commission approved an East River rifle season that will allow a total of 50,635 deer to be shot east of the Missouri River. That's a reduction of 7,950 tags from last year.

The West River season will allow resident hunters to shoot about 45,000 deer, down about 1,000 from last year.

The number of licenses available in the Black Hills will be reduced only slightly from last year.

In addition, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission is proposing that the state hold no hunting season for sage grouse this fall.

State wildlife officials say the bird's population has fallen in recent years in South Dakota and other western states.  In South Dakota, sage grouse are found mainly in Butte and Harding counties.

State wildlife officials have been working with federal agencies and other states in an effort to prevent the bird from being listed as an endangered species. They say such a listing would hamper ranchers and oil and gas operations.

South Dakota has had only a limited sage grouse season in prior years. Last year, 35 licensed hunters killed only nine birds.

The commission voted unanimously to close the sage grouse season this year.

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