DNR: Epizootic hemorrhagic disease killed deer near Janesville
JANESVILLE A whitetail deer near Janesville is among 75 to 100 that have died in southern Wisconsin in recent weeks from epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a state Department of Natural Resources supervisor said.
“This is the second known outbreak of EHD in Wisconsin in the 21st century,” said Eric Lobner, DNR district wildlife supervisor. “Back in 2002, we had 14 confirmed cases in Iowa County.”
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease is transmitted by midges, small insects that bite deer around the nose and eyes. Infected animals develop fever, extreme thirst and swelling in the head about seven days after being bit. Mortality from the disease is high. Animals typically die within 36 hours after symptoms appear.
The virus that causes the disease does not infect humans, according to the DNR website. People are not at risk when handling infected deer, eating venison from infected deer or being bitten by infected midges, according to the website.
Lobner said the hot, dry summer was a contributor to the disease outbreak. The threat will diminish significantly after autumn’s first hard frost.
The disease has been confirmed so far this year in four areas—41 cases in Columbia County, 21 in Dane County, 18 in the Waukesha-Walworth county line area and one in Rock County near Janesville, Lobner said.
“Drought conditions this past summer concentrated deer around a diminishing number of watering holes. The insects, a species of midge, morph from larval stage into adults when they come out of the water. Once they can fly, the first instinct is to feed. Deer visiting watering holes are an easy and available host,” Lobner said.
Wisconsin is at the northern edge of the insect’s range, Lobner said.
“Other states haven’t been so lucky. Thousands of deer have died in Missouri, over 750 in Illinois and many more in Michigan this summer,” he said.
“Fortunately, EHD is not widespread in Wisconsin. We’ve had 64 reports statewide this year in essentially four locations,” Lobner said.
People are encouraged to report to the DNR if they see deer:
-- With excessive salivation or foaming around the nose and mouth.
-- That appear weak and approachable by humans.
-- Are in or near water sources. Infected deer often will lay in water to cool down or drink.
The highest concentration of EHD deer deaths so far is in Columbia County, where 17 animals were found dead in one section of land.
“Obviously, this kind of concentrated outbreak ruins hunting potential over the affected area,” Lobner said. “More cases may be confirmed, possibly in other parts of the state, as more hunters enter the woods.
“The good news is, the situation will be mitigated with the first good frost, which has either already occurred or is right around the corner.”
How to report a sick deer
The state Department of Natural Resources has requested the people who see deer they suspect are infected with epizootic hemorrhagic disease call the DNR toll free at 1-888-936-7463, email DNRInfo@Wisconsin.gov or use the chat feature on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov.
Staff are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Be prepared to provide details about the condition of the deer and the exact location where the deer was observed. Individuals interested in finding more information on sick deer in Wisconsin can visit the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov and search for “sick deer.”