Wildlife officials investigating possible EHD outbreak

Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 4:44 pm
Bismarck Tribune

Wildlife officials are asking hunters to keep an eye out for dead deer in western North Dakota that could indicate the presence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

According to Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the Game and Fish Department, about 20 dead whitetail deer have been reported in four western counties - McKenzie, Hettinger, Slope and Golden Valley.

Grove said the deaths have characteristics similar to previous EHD events, though biologists have not yet confirmed the cause of the deer deaths.

"Deer losses to EHD occur periodically," Grove said. "Sometimes the incidents are isolated and affect few animals, and in other cases the disease is spread over a large geographic region." The last time North Dakota had significant deer deaths from EHD was 2005, he said.

Hunters are asked to log information if they come across dead deer and report it as soon as possible. Grove said the deer has to have been dead less than 24 hour to make a definitive diagnosis.

EHD causes dehydration and a high body temperature, causing deer to seek water prior to death. EHD primarily affects white-tailed deer, and is most noticeable in western North Dakota when high whitetail populations combine with a hot and humid late summer and early fall.

Most deer that die from this are infected before the first hard frost, which kills the biting midges that spread the disease, Grove said.

EHD is not a danger to humans. However, hunters should not shoot or consume a deer if it appears sick.

Information needed from each report is the species, age, sex and location.
"It would be nice if we could get the legal description of the land, or a GPS coordinate and a photograph if possible," Grove said.

"At the very least, we will need the number of miles and direction from the closest town."

Hunters should report any dead deer observations to the Game and Fish Department at ndgf@nd.gov , or (701) 328-6351.