Montana Landowners & Hunters Asked to Report Dead or Dying Deer

Montana Landowners & Hunters Asked to Report Sightings of Dead or Dying Deer

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in Deer
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in Deer
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

GLASGOW, Mont. –-( Scattered reports of white-tailed deer being found dead in recent weeks in parts of Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 6 have prompted state biologists to enlist the help of landowners and hunters.

“Folks who are out in the field and notice deer that have recently died from unknown causes are asked to call our office in Glasgow at (406) 228-3700 to report the number of animals and the exact location,” said Region 6 Wildlife Program Manager Mark Sullivan.

“We’ve been awaiting the results of testing on several deer that have recently been found to determine whether they’ve died from epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or some other traceable cause,” Sullivan said.

“We just learned that a sample from one of the deer tested positive for EHD. There doesn’t appear to be reason for alarm, but we are seeing a few deer dying rather suspiciously. With help from the public, we hope to determine the extent of the incidents. It may not be widespread at all.”

EHD is an acute, infectious, often-fatal viral disease of some wild ruminants, especially white-tailed deer. The disease, characterized by extensive hemorrhaging, fever, and a resultant urge to be near or even immersed in temperature-controlling fresh water, has been responsible for significant die-offs over the years in the northern United States and southern Canada.

A similar hemorrhagic disease commonly called bluetongue also occurs throughout the U.S. and Canada, but the two diseases are clinically different. Both diseases can affect mule deer and pronghorn antelope, but not as commonly as white-tailed deer.

Outbreaks of EHD and bluetongue most commonly occur during the summer and early fall, and animals typically develop signs of EHD about a week after exposure. Along with dead deer, landowners and hunters are asked to watch for deer that have lost their fear of humans, may be weak and salivating excessively or are semiconscious.

In cases of bluetongue, hemorrhaging and lack of oxygen in the blood may result in blue coloration in the animal’s mouth. Overall, the hemorrhages from these diseases range widely in size and involve a variety of different tissues and organs. Infected animals usually die within 36 hours of showing symptoms.

At this point there is no known treatment or control of these diseases, which researchers say have not been found to affect humans. EHD is spread by tiny biting flies, so a hard frost that kills these insects ends the spread of any ongoing outbreaks.