Tuesday, October 15, 2013

IDNR seeks help tracking deadly deer virus

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is seeking help from residents in tracking a deadly disease striking deer in the state.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) causes a high fever and internal bleeding in deer. The disease, which is spread by biting gnats, is often fatal in deer but does not threaten people or pets. There is no treatment for EHD. Once temperatures drop, killing off the gnats, outbreaks end for the year.

IDNR is calling on Illinoisans to report sick or dead deer that they suspect suffered from EHD so the department can track the disease. IDNR uses the information to help monitor deer populations so it can set conservation policies and hunting quotas, said Paul Shelton, IDNR forest wildlife program manager. Shelton said that after a report, IDNR may come out to test and confirm that EHD caused the death.

The numbers so far this year are less than last year. As of September 30, 403 EHD fatalities in 51 counties had been reported. At the same time last year, 2,043 deaths were reported in 76 counties. Drought conditions such as the ones in the state last year tend to increase infections because deer congregate around what little water they can find, creating a buffet for infected gnats. Many infected deer survive. Shelton said that the prevalence of infection last year maybe part of the reason numbers have dropped this year. Deer who survived now have a resistance to the disease. He said counties that had high mortality rates in 2012 have reported few or none in 2013.

The most common indication of EHD is deer dying in or close to water. Because the virus elevates the animal’s body temperature, those infected often seek water to try to cool off. The fever can also make deer lethargic. “They may even seem to lose their fear of humans,” Shelton said. “It may be hanging around a house, and it may not run away when you come up on it.” Shelton said that many deer die before the develop obvious physical signs of EHD, but some experience a discoloration of the tongue and lips, which can turn purple or blue.

If residents find a deer that they suspect may have fallen victim to EHD, the IDNR asks that they contact the nearest IDNR field office or call Doug Dufford, IDNR wildlife disease and invasive species program manager, at (815) 535-2875 or by email at doug.dufford@illinois.gov. The IDNR is seeking the county where the deer was found, the “number of dead deer, sex (if known) and specific location of the deer — distance [and] direction from the nearest town or intersection of two roads.”


scrape huner said...

Maybe you should share this in follow up to the EHD report given by Paul Shelton. I have been in personal contact with a DNR Biologist and I know that the numbers given above are a PRELIMINARY report based on reports from their "field staff". I personally reported 50+ deer in Fulton County alone. But because I reported those numbers October 1st.....? They did not make my information a part of the new release to the public. But hey....Lol.... the Biologist says to not panic, as just for Fulton County there are more reports being made of vehicle deer collisions than their are EHD deaths. However., lol...There is a required police report to be filed to submit your insurance claim when each car is damaged by a collision with a deer. But if you think every farmer is going to report each dead he finds while he is cutting corn? Lol... year right! A farmers attitude is "The only good deer is a dead deer as it will no longer be eating my crops". But you can dang sure bet your backside that if the insurance company was going to pay a farmer a fee for reporting every deer found dead? Then those reports would be a little more accurate.

Now from being an outfitter myself. I can assure you that most every outfitter IS NOT reporting their EHD finds. Last season I didn't even know anyone wanted it reported. Therefore I didn't report any of the handful that we found. But I have reported every deer I have found this season as well as other deer that hunters are choosing not to report. But I know of other outfitters that are saying they wont report a deer one to anyone due to fear of hunt cancellations from ticked off paying hunters that would lead to the threat of future bookings becoming non-existent. And for the local hunters NOT REPORTING? Those that are not saying a word I would have to assume are due to they just simply don't want the DNR poking around their property/hunt area's. But for those locals that do not like the presence of outfitters? Well this is the best time for you as locals to make an impact. Because with every report made....means the possibility of lowering the number of tags sold to non resident hunters. And if you are smart enough you can figure out just what kind of impact that would have on the future existence of outfitting in Illinois. So look people. If you love the sport and if you have a passion for whitetails? Then don't protect the problem by being silent. Become a part of the solution and contact the DNR to let them know what you are finding.

Now as for the meat not being harmful? Well how does on tell? Well I will give you hunters some food for thought. If you stumble upon a deer that looks like it is healthy but just fell over dead? Know that if the meat is not harmful.....then why is it even the vultures wont touch it? That is right. You will know if it is an animal that died from EHD. Because not a coon, coyote, crow nor even a turkey vulture touch or eat from that carcass. So what is it they are sensing to leave it alone?

For the hunters that find just the deer skeleton in the woods? You can also tell if it was an EHD kill due to the skeletal structure will be intact. If a coyote, hawk or coon is eating from it the bones will be scattered and ripped apart.

Ronald said...

I really hope that we all do our part in tracking this deadly deer virus. Let us all report whatever we can find that's connected to this.

Anonymous said...

Its time for the IDNR to take significant action and reduce quotas. I live and hunt on my property in Macon Co. We got hit hard by EHD in 2012 The deer herd is low and hunting pressure remains high.