Wildlife biologists have been monitoring an ongoing mortality event in white-tailed deer in western North Dakota.
Since late August, the Game and Fish Department has documented white-tailed deer deaths attributed to epizootic hemorrhagic disease in Emmons, Grant, Morton, Dunn, Billings, Stark, Hettinger and Adams counties.
“EHD is a viral disease transmitted by biting gnats,” said Dr. Charlie Bahnson, Game and Fish wildlife veterinarian. “We see a low level of EHD activity most years, but every so often, several environmental factors line up to make for a bad season, particularly in the southwest. This can result in high, localized mortality, but the good news is that the outbreak ends with cold weather that kills the gnats and our deer population does rebound.
“At this point we do not believe EHD has caused significant mortality like it did in 2011, but it does have our attention due to the number of reports we have received, which is why we are asking the public for their assistance to better gauge the intensity of this year’s outbreak.”
To gauge the extent and severity of the outbreak, Game and Fish encourages the public to report any sick or dead deer. Reports must include the species, age, sex and location.
“In some cases, we may need to collect samples off fresh carcasses, so please notify the department as soon as possible,” Bahnson said.
EHD primarily affects white-tailed deer, but other big games species are susceptible. The virus is not a danger to humans. However, hunters should not shoot or consume a deer if it appears sick.
Hunters should report any dead deer along with pictures, if possible, to the Game and Fish Department by calling (701) 328-6351 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.