Deadly Deer Disease Confirmed In Muskegon Co., First Case of EHD In The State For 2013

Posted at 10:59 PM, Sep 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-09 22:59:40-04

RAVENNA, Mich. – The Department of Natural Resources has found the first confirmed case of the deer disease EHD or epizootic hemorrhagic disease in Michigan.

EHD hit the deer population hard in Michigan last year.  According to Steve Chadwick, with the Department of Natural Resources, the DNR took roughly 15,000 reports of deer deaths related to EHD.  Chadwick says numbers are closer to 300 during a typical year.

According to the DNR the latest case of EHD was said to have killed 25 to 50 deer near a watershed area, Northeast of Ravenna.

“It was a landowner who discovered the deer and was able to call the DNR and we were able to get out and get a sample,” said Chadwick.

What officials from the DNR were testing for was the disease EHD.

“It’s a virus that is spread through the bite of gnat,” he said.

The disease can kill deer in a matter of hours and started to do so early last Summer.

“Last year was so abnormal,” said Chadwick.  “In fact we started getting reports on July 16th and normally it wouldn’t be until after Labor Day,”

2012 was so unusual the DNR is taking measures to find out why there were such a spike in reported numbers.

“We’ve actually been out trapping this summer to see how many bugs are out there and what’s causing it but not a lot is known about the disease right now,” said Chadwick.

What they do know, reports of deer deaths in general are down significantly for last year.

“They are now seeing deer with multiple births, so that is good news,” he said.

Youth hunting in Michigan is slated to start on Sept. 21 and bow season will start on Oct. 1.  During that time wildlife officials are asking hunters to be on the lookout for deer with apparent injuries to all four hoofs.

Chadwick said that is actually a positive sign, “That is a good sign because the deer had the disease and recovered.”

Chadwick said a recovering deer can pass along antibodies to offspring and help the herd repopulate.