Officials in South Dakota report another whitetail deer die-off

Sunday, September 15, 2013
By Paul Martin
September 14, 2013

SOUTH DAKOTA – A whitetail deer die off is occurring again this year in Bennett County. At this point there have only been a few reports of dead deer, and all have been from the eastern part of the county. The most likely cause of the die off is epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), which was the cause of the die off in 2012. At this point all of the deer reported dead in this area have been whitetails, but one mule deer was confirmed to have died of the disease in a different county. Other counties north of us are also reporting losing whitetails. There are several strains of EHD, with some of the strains affecting whitetail deer, mule deer, antelope and elk. The strain that was present last year did kill some mule deer and some elk, although the primary loss was whitetails. There were also some reports last year of cattle being infected in the area. Prior to last year, it was assumed that while cattle can carry the disease, they did not show any symptoms. Weather conditions more than anything else will determine if the die off becomes severe again this year or whether the die off is limited. If the conditions remain hot and dry, the conditions are right for the breeding of the black gnats and midges, which carry the disease. If it turns cool, the breeding cycle may slow and the die off may not be as severe. Hemorrhagic disease may kill deer within 72 hours of infection. Some deer will survive but will show signs of lameness, loss of appetite, and much reduced activity. A smaller proportion of animals may be disabled for weeks or months by lameness or emaciation. –BCB

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