It’s that time of year again when hunters and wildlife managers nervously wait and see if Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease will hit their region, and if so how bad of a deer-killing year it will be. EHD, which is transmitted to whitetails by biting midges, typically occurs from August through October, until the first frost in an area kills the midges that carry the disease.
Let’s hope this year’s first reported case of the disease, in Kentucky in July, is random and not a harbinger of bad things to come across the U.S. later this summer. This is the first reported outbreak of EHD in the Bluegrass State since 2007.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officers say a dozen sick and dead deer have been reported in Floyd, Knott and other counties in the southeastern part of the state in recent days, and they are on the lookout for more. They ask the public to report any deer that looks sick or acts strangely. Call them if you find a dead deer, which if infected by EHD will often be found in or near a pond, creek or other water source.
Anywhere across the U.S., hunters should immediately report potential cases of EHD to the appropriate wildlife authorities.
Here’s some new information I learned from the Kentucky report. It’s imperative to call the state wildlife authorities ASAP if you see a sick or stumbling deer, or find one that looks as if it just recently died. Apparently a blood sample from a deer to confirm the presence of EHD is good for only one hour after the deer dies. But you should still report a deer that has obviously been dead for hours or days, because wildlife specialists can GPS where the deer was found, and cross reference that with other GPS pins to determine the size and scope of the EHD outbreak.
The Kentucky Department Fish and Wildlife has an excellent page that explains EHD and whitetails.