Pierre, S.D. – The state Game, Fish and Parks Department has documented a few white-tailed deer found dead across South Dakota, and early reports point to epizootic hemorrhagic disease or EHD, which commonly affects white-tailed deer in the fall.
“This is the time of year when we receive these reports, and it is hard to tell the extent of the impact at this time,” said Steve Griffin, a GFP wildlife biologist. “The virus is carried by a biting midge, which can remain prevalent until a hard freeze kills the midges.”
Department staff are collecting samples from some of the dead deer, and the samples are being sent to the diagnostics lab at South Dakota State University, Griffin said.
GFP is currently assessing the status of EHD in the South Dakota deer herd, he said.
“We have confirmed the disease in central South Dakota, and the symptoms that our local conservation officers and field staff are describing sound much like EHD,” Griffin said. “Although the extent of the disease is unknown at this time, it appears that the primary counties affected are Sully, Hughes, Stanley, Jones, Lyman, and Tripp. With the hard freezes last week, the disease vector was likely eliminated. However, we may still see deer dying that were infected prior to the frost.”
The virus that causes EHD gives deer a high fever, and they will appear to be in a daze. If the disease hits them hard, they can die in 1-3 days. The dead deer are often found near low-lying areas or in areas where they can cool off in a river or pond. They are usually too weak to leave those wet areas, and die there.
EHD outbreaks can be locally severe, but rarely affect more than 25 percent of a deer population. In rare cases, up to 50 percent of deer may be stricken.
Those who see deer that appear dazed, or find a number of dead deer, are asked to contact local conservation officers or call the Pierre GFP office at 605-773-3718.