Drought fueling deer disease in Illinois, Midwest
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[September 08, 2012]
CHAMPAIGN (AP) -- The drought that's
dried out much of the Midwest is now fueling an outbreak of a
disease often fatal to deer, the Illinois Department of Natural
Resources said Thursday. The outbreak has been noted in Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
More than 700 deer are known to have been killed so far this summer
in Illinois by epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, the Department
of Natural Resources said. The incidents have occurred primarily in
hard-hit southern and central parts of the state, as well as Cook
County. Deer deaths also are being reported in those neighboring
states, though numbers were not immediately available.
disease is spread by biting gnats and leads to internal bleeding. It
doesn't affect people, and domestic animals rarely develop serious
illnesses when infected, DNR deer project manager Tom Micetich said.
EHD can affect deer populations in particular areas but seldom is
wide-ranging, he said.
"This occurs because environmental and habitat conditions play an
important role in producing just the right mix of virus, high gnat
populations and susceptible deer," Micetich said. "Heavy losses may
occur in a particular area, while adjacent properties may be
The hardest-hit Illinois counties this year are Macon in central
Illinois, Calhoun in southwest Illinois and Cook. But cases have
been reported in 51 counties.
Deer-hunting outfitter Keelan Holloway of New Haven -- near the
Ohio River about 150 miles southeast of St. Louis -- said he's seen
only a few deer that were likely EHD victims this year on properties
where he takes hunters. That's far fewer than past dry years,
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Earlier outbreaks, though, have cut populations on some sites
where he usually takes hunters from Pennsylvania, New York, New
Jersey and other states.
"Some properties we didn't hunt just because we didn't have
enough deer in there to go in and mess with," Holloway said. "We've
been kind of rebuilding our herd (from an earlier outbreak) the last
two or three years."
The disease is more common in drought years because deer
concentrate around limited water sources, Micetich said. Exposed mud
flats are also ideal for large hatches of gnats.
EHD outbreaks typically end with the first frost that's cold
enough to kill insects, he said.
By DAVID MERCER]
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