EHD Outbreaks in Montana

By Chris Berens, D&DH Intern
EHD Victim
Reports of dead and dying white-tailed deer have been coming in to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks offices recently. According to the MFWP, the Milk River area in the northeastern part of the state has had the latest incidences, while southeastern Montana has had reports since earlier in the summer. The department is awaiting test results from the state lab to determine the cause of the deaths. EHD is the likely source as many of the the deer have been found in or near water.

EHD, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, is an infectious and often-fatal viral disease found most often in whitetails, but also in mule deer and pronghorn antelope, the FWP said. Effects of the disease include hemorrhaging and fever, which will cause many victims to move near or into a water source seeking respite. Other symptoms include overall weakness, loss of fear, foaming at the mouth, swelling on the head or neck and circling. A deer can die within one to three days after being bitten by an infected midge fly.

The untreatable disease is not a threat to humans or livestock and usually occurs in late summer or early fall. A good frost will kill the midges and stop the disease from spreading further. MFWP will reduce the number of surplus white-tailed deer "B" licenses by 2,000 in Region 6 because of the possibility of EHD spreading in the Milk River area and its impact on the herd. That number may change depending on the severity of the outbreak. Anyone who witnesses a deer showing symptoms of EHD, or that has died of no apparent causes should contact their local game department office or warden.

For more insight into the life cycle of a white-tailed deer, check out the Deer & Deer Hunting Whitetail Behavior DVD.