(Bismarck, ND) -- We're getting more insight on just what is causing deer mortality rates to spike in North Dakota.
Wildlife biologists continue monitoring an ongoing mortality event in white-tailed deer in central parts of the state since early August. The state Game and Fish Department has documented whitetail deer deaths attributed to epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
“EHD is a viral disease transmitted by biting gnats,” said Dr. Charlie Bahnson, Game and Fish wildlife veterinarian. “We see a low level of EHD activity most years, but every so often, environmental factors line up to make for a bad season. Last year, southwest North Dakota was hit relatively hard by EHD. Right now, it appears that the virus is picking up where it left off, with most cases coming from locations on the edge of 2020’s heavily affected areas. The hardest hit area appears to be a 20-mile radius of the Bismarck-Mandan area, but we are also tracking smaller, localized outbreaks elsewhere in the state.”
Game and Fish is asking for assistance to better gauge the extent and severity of this year’s outbreak. The public is encouraged to report any sick or dead deer through an online reporting system.
“In some cases, we may need to collect samples off fresh carcasses, so please notify the department as soon as possible,” Bahnson said.
Hunters should report any dead deer along with photos, if possible, to the Game and Fish Department through the online wildlife mortality reporting system, which can be found by clicking here.
EHD primarily affects white-tailed deer, but other big game species are susceptible. The virus is not a danger to humans, however, hunters should not shoot or consume a deer if it appears sick.