PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A disease that caused large-scale deer die-offs in South Dakota last year has not had the same impact this year.
There have been about 700 reported deer deaths this year from epizootic hemorrhagic disease, better known as EHD, compared to 3,700 reported deaths last year, according to state Game, Fish and Parks.
This year’s cases also appear to be in a narrower geographical area, wildlife program administrator Chad Switzer told the Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/1ak9Ulr ). The majority of the cases have been in Perkins and Corson counties in the northwest, Bennett and Todd counties in the southwest, and some parts of the western Black Hills. Last year’s deaths were more widespread and included heavy losses in some southeastern counties along the Missouri River.
The lower numbers this year likely reflect the cyclical nature of the disease, according to Switzer. The right environmental factors also are necessary to produce the number of disease-carrying midges and deer to cause the record die-off numbers seen last year, he said. The 3,700 reported deaths were nearly triple the previous record of 1,300 in 2011, and resulted in more than 3,000 deer licenses being returned or withdrawn.
EHD primarily attacks wild animals such as deer, bighorn sheep and antelope, but it also can infect domestic animals including cattle, sheep and goats. White-tailed deer that are infected almost always die, though mule deer usually survive. The virus is not known to harm people. The midges — or tiny biting flies — that spread the disease typically die off with the first hard frost of the season.
EHD also was found in North Dakota this year, prompting that state’s Game and Fish Department in September to suspend the sale of more than 1,000 remaining doe licenses in the southwest part of the state. There also were reports in several North Dakota counties of the disease spreading to cattle.
Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, http://www.capjournal.com