According to a recently published Tennessee.gov press release, calls have been pouring in to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources agency about dead deer that have been appearing all over the state.
The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia and Athens analyzed the deceased deer. What they found is that many of Tennessee’s deer are dying from EHD, or Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.
The reason that officials aren’t shocked as this is because EHD occurs regularely throughout Tennessee. Strangely, some years yield no signs of the disease, but other years showed the disease in a large portion of dead deer.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency have had EHD-positive deer show up in a total of 30 counties so far and the number is expected to grow.
What makes this year a little alarming is that the reports started coming in early August, several weeks earlier than usual,” said Daryl Ratajczak, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Big Game Coordinator
Roger Applegate, a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Disease Coordinator, said, “We most often start getting the dead deer reports in the last week of August and first part of September. However, the most important thing for hunters, landowners, and the public to know is that this is a regular and natural event that routinely afflicts white-tailed deer and that it is not transmissible to humans or any other animals. The public also need not be overly concerned about the fate of the deer because any reduction in deer numbers in a local area will easily be made up within a couple of years.”
A lot of white-tailed deer adapted to EHD. Many survive the infection and will pass along the immunity to their offspring. This pattern will go on before large amounts of deer suddenly die off.
EHD begins with a midge, or a small biting fly, transmitted the virus to the deer. The virus can cause depression, fever, respiratory distress, and swelling of the neck or tongue. Those deer that survive these symptoms may slowly lose appetite and or become lame which could last for several weeks before the deer die or get over the disease.
“Due to the already stressful conditions caused by the drought, we can expect to see die-offs as high as 40 percent in some highly localized areas,” said Applegate.
“Although it is unfortunate, EHD die-offs are part of a completely natural cycle that has been occurring for eons. The deer obviously deal with it, we must deal with it as well,” added Ratajczak.
Tennessee.gov. “Deer Mortality Attributed to EHD.” info.tnanytime.org/tngov/