A Deadly Killer for Deer

Many hunters including myself not only love to hunt but we have a passion to hunt but this obsession might come to an end because of some deadly killers that are taking out the deer population. Not only are we a predator for the deer along with many carnivores that are taking down the deer but the most deadly killer for the deer is a disease called EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease). EHD also known as bluetongue is a virus transmitted by small biting flies called midges. This disease is the number one killer of white-tailed deer around the Midwest and all around the United States. 

The way most deer get this disease is when the white-tailed deer need to get a drink from a water source the exposed mud around the water is the breeding ground for these flies so they can just inject the virus into the deer. This disease has taken out whole herds around the U.S. while in other spots there has been no sign of this disease. In the hardest-hit areas of EHD the unusual steps were taken of altering hunting seasons and decreasing the number of deer licenses available for hunters. 

When white-tailed deer are infected with this disease they usually don’t get any symptoms until 7 days after they are infected. Deer usually lose their appetite and the fear of humans. They also develop a rapid pulse and get a really bad fever. Then 8-36 hours after they have this disease they go into a shock-like state and die. This disease occurs mostly from mid-August through October and usually don’t go through winter since the flies can’t make it through the cold winter.

Although this virus is usually most common in white-tailed deer there has also been signs of mule deer and pronghorn antelope have been known to carry it too. However farmers don’t have to worry about their cattle because cattle can’t be affected by EHD. Even though they are not affected by this virus they can still get it. Studies have shown that cattle and sheep can get EHD but they will not die. They will isolate themselves and be alone while they have this disease but they won’t die from it. 

Even if people want to try to stop this disease there is little to none that can be done to stop this virus. The best way is to regulate the deer populations through hunting. You can maybe regulate the antlerless deer from being shot from hunters or just create habitat for these deer. Overall, I do think this is a problem for the deer population and I think we have something done to try to save these deer for future hunting years.

What is EHD and who carries it?
How do deer get this virus and how is it transmitted?
Why is this virus so deadly to deer and other animals?

10 thoughts on “A Deadly Killer for Deer

  1. EHD is fatal to the White-tailed Deer population in the Midwest, and there is little to nothing we can do to stop it. The disease is carried by small biting flies referred to as midges. The flies live in muddy areas near prime water sources for the deer, making them almost an unstoppable force. For years now deer population has been a popular topic, and with the emergence of EHD, hunting won’t be the only factor in deer population.


  2. EHD is a disease that mainly affects white-tailed deer in the United States. This disease is caused by a virus that is spread by a biting midge. The disease usually affects deer herds in South Dakota in the late summer or early fall. Most refer to this disease as bluetongue and although they are very similar, they are slightly different viruses. EHD can affect mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk and pronghorn in South Dakota, but it primarily impacts white-tailed deer. EHD is the most common occurring viral disease of white-tailed deer in the United States. The southeastern portion of the United States has EHD outbreaks every year with relatively few losses of animals. In the northern plains, we usually see minor disease losses, but some years, losses can be significant.
    I think hunters should be limited to the amount of Deer that is hunted yearly, because it seemed that the deer population is dropping drastically which is caused by EHD and also because they’re killed more often than other animals. And if this sickness is bad, hunting deer should be stopped because there is a possible chance that hunters or people that eat deer might be affected by this sickness.
    – See more at: http://gfp.sd.gov/wildlife/diseases/epizootic-hemorrhagic-disease.aspx#sthash.Z3VuF19m.dpuf

  3. Yes I agree that Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is fatal to the deer population, but how is it transmitted? According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources the disease is carried by a biting fly known as a midge. In order for the deer to become infected with EHD it has to be bitten by a midge that is carrying the disease. A deer cannot be infected by another deer with the disease. You may know if a deer has been infected when you see it because the deer will loose its fear of humans. The season that EHD is spread is during late fall and last about two weeks or until the first frost can kill the midges off. In conclusion, EHD is spread through the biting flies and we still do not know what can be done to eliminate the outbreaks.


  4. EHD is common in white-tailed deer but don’t often occur in other species. It occurs in the driest part of the year when conditions are just right for biting gnats which are the carriers of the disease. The disease is not contagious form animal to animal and humans cannot get the disease. It comes from gnats that live in wet muddy areas. It is transmitted to deer that conjugate at watering holes in hot dry weather. This is where I found all my information on EHD and how deer pick up this deadly disease


  5. This article contains a lot of information about EHD. Before I read this, I did not know that this one disease could take out almost the whole population of deer. Since 1890, many deer have been found dead from different diseases that might have been blue tongue disease. This has happened in many spots around North America. Lots of people have been asking what is causing the decrease in deer population and how other animals are effected by it too. Around 1955, several deer were found dead in New Jersey and Michigan. They named the disease epizootic hemorrhagic disease to describe the clinical features of what the deer looked like. This disease has been found in many wild animals. The biting midges usually spread this disease between August and October. The freezing weather stops the midges from biting the animals in the winter. Overall, this disease is very bad for all animals and it will keep coming until we can stop those midges.

  6. This article surprised me because I didn’t know that this disease could take out whole herds of deer. EHD is actually a virus from the genus Orbivirus, which is spread from deer to deer. It is carried by biting flies from the genus Culiocoides. This virus can actually fatally affect a wide variety of animals, not just white-tailed deer. This interested me because it made me worry that this virus could be spread very rapidly if it infected a large amount of different kinds of animals. Even though most states only get about 6 or 7 cases each year, this new, thorough information makes me wonder if this virus could be a much larger problem later on.

  7. EHD affects many types of animals including deer and cattle. EHD is spread by a bug called the Midge of the genus Culicoides. The spread of EHD is usually because of their breeding habits. After hatching from their eggs midge larvae live in mud on the edge of still water( usually in shallow parts of small ponds). They prefer warm, sunlit water. Disturbed mud is also good for them. These ideal breeding grounds are similar to conditions of cattle ponds. For more about midges click on the fallowing link: http://www.qdma.com/articles/can-we-prevent-ehd

  8. White tail deer usually get this disease by drinking water from a water source that has mud around it. I found this information interesting because I never knew that this disease was this easily spread. I also found it interesting that the deer usually don’t have any symptoms of the disease until a week later. However I find it sad that its spreading to other species. In conclusion, I think that its crazy they can get the disease just by drinking water from a water source with mud around it. http://www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases/0,4579,7-186–26647–,00.html

  9. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, also known as EHD is an acute, infectious, often fatal viral disease of some wild ruminants. A very big carrier of this disease are white-tailed deer. Although, 7 different kinds of deer have been diagnosed with this disease in 6 different countries. The virus is transmitted by a biting fly, also called a midge. The disease may not be transmitted from deer to deer. This is such a deadly virus, because annually there are numbers of die-offs in areas where EHD exists. Another disease that is closely related to EHD is called Bluetongue. The symptoms are even very similar. For both, a white-tailed deer will start seeing signs of both diseases after about 7 days. After this, they lose their appetite and their fear of humans. Also, they salivate a lot and start getting a very rapid pulse. And soon after, they become unconscious. Lack of oxygen results in the blue blood appearance of the oral mucosa, which is where it also gets the name, Bluetongue. Thirty-six hours after this the deer becomes dead.

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