North Dakota’s second deer lottery has been held and individual results are available on the State Game and Fish Department website.
While slightly more than 1,000 antlerless deer licenses were still available after the second lottery, all of them are in units 3F1, 3F2 and 4F in the southwestern part of the state, where Game and Fish is receiving ongoing reports of white-tailed deer mortality caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
As such, Game and Fish administration has decided to not issue those remaining licenses. “The decision is based on previous years’ experience where moderate to significant white-tailed deer losses were documented in situations similar to this year,” said wildlife chief Randy Kreil.
In addition, Kreil said the likelihood of an extended fall, and possible continuation of EHD losses was also a factor in the decision. “While we first received reports of isolated deer deaths in August, loss of deer to this disease appears to have extended into September, and depending on the weather, may continue into October,” Kreil added, noting that the area of reported white-tailed deer deaths to EHD covers Bowman to Bismarck.
In 2011, deer deaths from EHD occurred well into October, and prompted Game and Fish to offer refunds to license holders in several southwestern units. Kreil said it’s too early to tell whether this year’s EHD episode is significant enough to warrant a similar action, and the agency will wait until after opening weekend of pheasant season to determine whether refunds would be an option. “In the past,” Kreil added, “it has been helpful to gauge the scope and intensity of an EHD situation when there are thousands of hunters in the field in EHD areas, who might observe dead deer along waterways.”
EHD, a naturally occurring virus that is spread by a biting midge, is almost always fatal to infected white-tailed deer, while mule deer do not usually die from the disease. Hunters do not have to worry about handling or consuming meat from infected deer because the virus that causes EHD is not known to cause disease in humans. In addition, the first hard freeze typically kills the midge that carries and transfers the EHD virus which will slow or halt the spread of the disease.