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EHD Epidemic Set to Explode

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August 15, 2012
EHD Epidemic Set to Explode - 4

I hope I’m wrong about this, but I’m afraid you are about to lose your deer.

That up-and-coming buck that you passed last year, knowing his 140 inches will be 160 this year? Gone. That old drop-tine veteran that always shows up just before the rut? He’s turned to soil. Those mature does, fat with backstrap tallow that you were planning to turn to jerky and rump roasts? They’re dead.

They are the victims of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, the greatest killer of whitetails this continent has ever seen. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate between young or old, black-swamp or farm-field deer, trophy or management buck, though it does seem to select bucks in the prime of their antler-growing velvet.

And it may very well be creeping toward the place you hunt, taking the deer you thought you were managing.

We have already discussed what EHD is and how it spreads. So, how do you know if it’s going to affect your area? Well, there’s no way to accurately forecast its spread, but what we do know is that this summer’s climatic conditions are nearly perfect for an outbreak of historic proportions.

It tends to be worse in years of prolonged drought, which concentrates deer around available water. And because the virus is spread by a biting midge, the later we go into the fall without a killing frost, the worst the epidemic will be. Lastly, we have deer densities at or near historic highs in much of whitetail country. That means there are more animals to contract the disease, and to pass their infected blood on to their brethren.

Here are the places that have had reports of EHD so far this summer. Keep in mind, there is often a time lag between the first reports of dead and dying deer and confirmation of the disease, so these outbreaks are likely on the earliest leading edge of a wider outbreak of hemorrhagic disease.

MICHIGAN: Mainly Ionia and Calhoun counties, with about 1,000 mortalities confirmed statewide so far.

NORTH CAROLINA: As many as 80 deer have been confirmed to be killed by EHD in two northwestern counties.

IOWA: The state’s Department of Natural Resources alerted sportsmen of detection of dead deer near water sources around the state. No word on specifically affected areas or numbers of affected deer.

NEBRASKA: The state’s Game and Parks Commission has confirmed a widespread deer kill along the Platte River through the eastern portion of the Cornhusker State. Mortality is still being quantified, but it appears to number in the thousands.

INDIANA: Morgan and Putnam counties have contributed the highest number of EHD mortalities so far, but 11 counties in the state have confirmed EHD kills.

MISSOURI: The state’s Department of Conservation is tracking a number of unconfirmed cases of EHD, from the southwestern corner of the Show-Me State to the northern border with Iowa.

Comments (4)

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

So I guess the question I would have is, if EHD is such a menace, why is CWD the disease that usually gets all the attention?

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Hunting Editor - Thanks for the response. Although it costed me a couple of hours. I took a second look after your response and feel you're probably right about an epidemic. I was most curious as to the correlation between a drought and the biting midge provoking an all out war. It seems it's all about the exposed mud. They breed and thrive in it. I would assume the biting midge has a natural range and only affect the deer herd drinking from their breeding grounds. If this is true maybe contiguous deer herds that are drinking from an alternative water source are ok? I have no idea though. I love mother nature and everything she has created (in the wild) and I still trust her judgement. None of us complain about heartworms and coyotes (haha), but EHD and deer worry us. That's awful about your hunting grounds last year and I can see the passion in your writing. Thanks for the article and the lesson.

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from HuntingEditor wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

schmakenzie - I hope you are right, and you are also right that this is one of the way Mama Nature corrects for excess. But, as a post I hope to get up later this week indicates, we lost upwards of 85 percent of our deer on Montana's Milk River last year. It was one of the most colossal bummers of my adult life, seeing all the bucks that I had hoped to hunt last fall and this year just turn belly-up. The hard thing about EHD when it hits in August is that those bucks with luxurious velvet on their antlers tend to get hit hardest, because the biting midge that transmits the EHD virus finds the blood in velvet antlers especially accessible. As I said, I hope I'm wrong about the extent of EHD this summer, but it's better to be prepared than surprised.
mckean

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from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Some deer become infected with EHD or blue tongue and don't expire. They develop antibodies and can pass this on to their fawns. Mother nature has ways. I don't like it (the diseases), but I am a huge proponent of leaving the environment and wildlife alone. The opening to the blog catches your attention, but I think I will be tagging deer this year.

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Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from HuntingEditor wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

schmakenzie - I hope you are right, and you are also right that this is one of the way Mama Nature corrects for excess. But, as a post I hope to get up later this week indicates, we lost upwards of 85 percent of our deer on Montana's Milk River last year. It was one of the most colossal bummers of my adult life, seeing all the bucks that I had hoped to hunt last fall and this year just turn belly-up. The hard thing about EHD when it hits in August is that those bucks with luxurious velvet on their antlers tend to get hit hardest, because the biting midge that transmits the EHD virus finds the blood in velvet antlers especially accessible. As I said, I hope I'm wrong about the extent of EHD this summer, but it's better to be prepared than surprised.
mckean

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

So I guess the question I would have is, if EHD is such a menace, why is CWD the disease that usually gets all the attention?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Some deer become infected with EHD or blue tongue and don't expire. They develop antibodies and can pass this on to their fawns. Mother nature has ways. I don't like it (the diseases), but I am a huge proponent of leaving the environment and wildlife alone. The opening to the blog catches your attention, but I think I will be tagging deer this year.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Hunting Editor - Thanks for the response. Although it costed me a couple of hours. I took a second look after your response and feel you're probably right about an epidemic. I was most curious as to the correlation between a drought and the biting midge provoking an all out war. It seems it's all about the exposed mud. They breed and thrive in it. I would assume the biting midge has a natural range and only affect the deer herd drinking from their breeding grounds. If this is true maybe contiguous deer herds that are drinking from an alternative water source are ok? I have no idea though. I love mother nature and everything she has created (in the wild) and I still trust her judgement. None of us complain about heartworms and coyotes (haha), but EHD and deer worry us. That's awful about your hunting grounds last year and I can see the passion in your writing. Thanks for the article and the lesson.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)