Why You Shouldn’t Shoot Deer That Look Sick This Season

by Shelby Scott

Deer season has kicked off in many states across the country and hunters are pumped to get out in the woods and fields. As such, we more than encourage our passionate Outsiders to get out there and get that trophy buck. Although, we did want to give y’all a warning about potential animal-based illnesses this year.

Humans have already begun to encounter flu season and the symptoms that accompany the viral infection. Meanwhile, deer are suffering their own sort of flu season. Officials have warned hunters especially, though all individuals should be aware, not to shoot (or approach in general) ill-looking deer.

White-tailed deer, as well as mule deer and pronghorns, have begun to show signs of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease this season. However, this year, the disease is striking in much larger magnitudes. While it doesn’t affect humans, is common among deer populations. Now, it’s appearing in many of the wild populations across the northern regions of the United States.

Big Country News further reported that hunters should see a “fair-to-good” deer hunting season. Nevertheless, the disease continues to strike specified white-tailed populations. The infection, therefore, leads to increased fatalities of the animals in certain regions and states, making for poorer hunting conditions.

What Causes EHD in North American White Tailed Deer?

The EHD outbreak within our nation’s white-tailed herds is no doubt a big deal for hunters. However, it’s also important to know where the disease comes from. We should also know when to expect to see decreased rates of infection.

Across the U.S., from Pennsylvania out to Indiana and further, deer continue to succumb to EHD. According to the news outlet, the disease gets carried by tiny gnats which typically thrive in stagnant bodies and pools of water. Further, since we’ve had generally mild winters across the U.S. last year, it makes sense both the pesky bugs and EHD continue to thrive this year.

Symptoms of the disease, according to Cornell University, include a loss of appetite, weakness, and the loss of fear of humans. Strikingly obvious symptoms include a swollen head, neck, tongue, or eyeballs. Those animals that do succumb to the disease typically die within eight to 36 hours.

Unfortunately for our white-tailed prey, there’s no current cure or treatment for the intrusive disease. Big Country News states cases won’t drop until temperatures do and the coming cold and frosts kill the disease-carrying gnats.

New York Loses 700 White Tails to EHD

Earlier last month, New York had already begun to see significant fatality rates in the state’s population of whitetails. Reports claimed 700 total deer had succumbed to EHD across seven different counties.

Additionally, it’s important to note that our nation’s deer encounter the parasidically transferred disease each year. However, NY’s Department of Environmental Conservation previously shared this year’s outbreak is much more widespread.

Another interesting aspect of the disease is that once one deer gets it, they don’t spread it to another deer like humans do with the flu. The hooved creatures can only get EHD from the carriers of the disease itself.