The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, along with the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia, has confirmed that EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) is the cause of death of a large population of Tennessee’s Whitetail deer. At least 30 counties have reported large numbers of dead deer. The reports come from all across the state, with the highest numbers concentrating in the Northern areas of Middle Tennessee.
TWRA officials issued a press release stating that EHD has long been an issue in Tennessee, yet some years there are virtually no reports of whitetail deaths due to this disease. Officials express concern that due to the extreme heat and dry weather experienced in Tennessee over the summer, cases were reported in higher numbers and occurred much earlier in the year than normal.
Disease Coordinator, Roger Applegate was quoted as saying “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.” He also said there should be little concern about Tennessee’s deer population, as whatever toll this disease takes on the whitetail deer population would be reversed with two to three years.
EHD is a disease caused by a virus transmitted to the deer through the bite of fly. Deer that contract the disease suffer from respiratory problems, swelling of the neck and tongue, fever and depression. Deer who survive the disease will experience a prolonged recovery period. Researchers believe that females who survive the disease may pass an immunity to the disease to their future offspring, which will aide in protecting the population in future years.
TWRA reports that the mortality rate in some areas of the state is nearly 40% of the deer population in some areas. TWRA request that hunters and landowners report any dead deer suspected of dying of EHD. There was no word on the effect the high number of deaths would take on the upcoming deer season.
Tennessee taxidermist, Don Russell, told reporters, “We will see in a few months, the effect the disease really has had on the deer population. The number of deer brought into my shop will tell the real story.”
If you found this article interesting, and would like to read more by this author, please click on her name at the top of this page.
Source: DEER MORTALITY ATTRIBUTED TO EHD, http://tennessee.gov/twra/news/deermortality.html