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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST | BRIEFS

Fire closures may cut hunts

August 10, 2004|Ashley Powers

Parched brush, drought and an early fire season could limit Southern California deer hunts this fall.

Much of the front range of San Bernardino National Forest is already closed, and the Angeles and Los Padres forests have restrictions on smoking and fires. The Cleveland National Forest is considering similar measures.

"The potential is there for a fire season every bit as bad as last fall," says Forest Service spokesman Matt Mathes. "People will get upset about closures, but at least the forest will be there next year."

Deer hunts in at least six zones could be affected, the Department of Fish and Game says. Hunters can exchange the $20.75 tag before the earliest season in that zone -- typically archery -- opens, but only if a tag for a newly requested zone is available. The fee is $6.50.

Last year's wildfires cut short many hunts, which usually begin in September. The San Bernardino forest closed before the 2002 deer season because of fire risk.

-- Ashley Powers

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