EHD Affecting SD Deer Hunting Season
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
October 11, 2012 5:15 PM
EHD is a virus that is spreading throughout the deer population in South Dakota. Since August around a thousand deer have been reportedly killed by the disease sometimes called the Blue Tongue Virus.
With so many dead deer, The South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Parks is taking action this hunting season and trying to keep a healthy population for years to come.
Six counties will no longer be selling deer hunting tags due to EHD and Game Fish and Parks are offering refunds for deer hunting licenses they've already sold.
EHD has been infecting and killing deer in southern South Dakota at an alarming rate.
“EHD comes from a midge. When the midge bites them they get a virus. Some deer, it won't affect. Other deer, they're dead in 24 hour,” said Sam Schelhaas, theYankton County conservation officer.
The virus gives the deer a fever and has them rushing to water and that's where most of them take their final drink.
Officials in Yankton County and five other counties are taking action and not selling any more deer hunting licenses.
“If we have a high number of deer dying and then we have hunters shooting a lot of deer, we could really cause our deer herd to go down instead of maintaining where we are at,” said Schelhaas.
The disease is killing mainly adult deer. Officials have received a lot of reports of fawns roaming with out their parents.
But just because EHD has killed off hundreds of deer doesn't mean deer-hunting season is cancelled.
“We're not telling every hunter just to stop hunting. We're asking hunters in areas that they know have been affected to turn their tags in or to use common sense. And maybe this is the year that you shoot for a trophy deer,” said Schelhaas.
While wildlife officials continue to get more and more calls of the diseased deer they hope the weather may slow down the spread of the virus.
“It's just an insect that's causing this virus and if we get a hard frost it'll kill the insect and hopefully the virus will stop then too,” said Schelhaas.
Bon Homme County has also been hit hard by EHD. So far, 337 deer have been confirmed killed by the disease there.
Game, Fish, and Parks are also worried about the amount of dead deer that haven't been reported and are unsure how much of the deer population has suffered from EHD.