Blue tongue/epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is hitting Illinois with a vengeance, and it started early this year – no matter what you read somewhere else.
Due to the extreme drought, my latest info is that EHD has been reported in more than 40 of 102 Illinois counties, although I’m confident there’s many more than that. And I’m confident it is spreading rapidly, since it is still early in the usual timeline for this disease.
Counties reporting so far include Calhoun, Vermilion, Cook, Will, Wayne, Marion, Cumberland, Schuyler, Fulton, Johnson, Effingham, Fayette, Williamson, Shelby, Macon, Cass, Morgan, Pike, Saline, Jefferson, Brown, Adams, Knox, Jasper, Perry and Washington.
The disease has also showed up in Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Michigan. And it’s just getting started, since only a frost will stop it now.
What is EHD? Every year in the U.S. there are outbreaks of Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) in deer. HD is caused by two different virus families, epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) and blue tongue virus (BTV). Both are similar. Man is not affected by these two viruses that we know of.
The disease is passed by no-see-ums, midges, punkies, sand flies, etc. These tiny insects carry the virus and when they bite a deer, infect the deer with the virus. They breed in muddy, wet areas and also in areas that are wet and have a high degree of organic matter.
Dry conditions congregate the deer in areas where the insects are breeding. Click here to read more about the disease.
Here’s a probable EHD death from southern Illinois that measured 203 inches and was found by a pond in mid-August.
This year’s early emergence of the disease is similar to 2007, when the outbreak started at the end of August and went full bore through September and on. This year the disease started around Aug. 1. And with the severe drought throughout the entire Midwest, this may be “the big one’” after which state wildlife divisions may have to take a hard look at their future harvest goals in hard-hit counties.
That’s “if” their Deer Management Computer Model can actually accept new data. I realize that’s never going to happen here in Illinois. If I had a paid deer hunt booked in the infected areas, I’d be looking at my contract to see if I could re-book for about 4 years out, as the more mature bucks always seem to succumb first.
Then again, this may be the IDNR’s dream come true to lower the Illinois deer-vehicle accident (DVA) rates! As the deer die off, and to justify all the new “herd reduction” and crossgun deer seasons, IDNR may have to lower its DVA target from 207, to around 107 per billion miles driven in many counties before this is over.
Of course in the fall of 2007, they called that a “minor” outbreak and added more gun seasons thereafter, even though that year saw the worse EHD/blue tongue outbreak in Illinois deer-herd history. Parts of the state saw mortality at around 55 percent and, contrary to IDNR statements, many of those areas still have not recovered.
Click here to see an example of exactly what I’m talking about when I say the IDNR “downplays” things. Dated Aug. 9, this article came out LONG BEFORE we even get into the peak season for heavy EHD dieoffs.
And IDNR Deer Project Manager Mr. Micetich states here that in 2007, EHD killed 1,966 deer statewide. Well I can tell you firsthand, it killed more than that in just a couple counties in west-central Illinois. I highly suspect they really don’t want to admit to the actual mortality from this disease, as it’s really bad press for permit sales – especially the Outfitter/NonResident cash cow that Springfield relies on so much.
And it doesn’t help to justify the never-ending new deer seasons. Now I realize that the IDNR didn’t create EHD/blue tongue, and I realize they can’t stop it. But what really gets my goat is when they downplay it or even simply ignore it when it comes to proper deer herd management in Illinois.
IDNR outdid itself this year by coming up with a new crossbow season BEFORE the deer even started dying! Wonder what they’ll call this one, minor again? They told me that they just didn’t get that many reports in 2007.
Well I’m reporting it right now, here on HO. I now realize that when CPOs (they usually get the calls) are called out to dead or dying deer, the IDNR Wildlife division does not necessarily count those as reported, as they never know about them.
And most farmers whom find dead deer on their farms, couldn’t care less about reporting it to a Springfield office and then “maybe” have to deal with some guy showing up to say, “Yup, it’s a dead deer alright.” They simply do not report it and go on about their business, as it’s just less deer to eat the crops. I saw that firsthand in 2007 with my farmer neighbors where I live.
Deer you find most likely will be in/around ponds and creeks, even though they may have already dried up long ago. Some will be dead in the timber and even out in open ag fields, like was the case in 2007.
Here’s an EHD buck in a Shelby County creek in mid-August. They tell me the dead deer are thick along the Kaskaskia River.
Click here to see a video from WAND in Decatur (you have to sit through a commercial first).
We will keep you all posted on what we hear about EHD. If any of our HO readers find or have found dead deer in counties other than what’s listed above, let us know here under the Comments section.