Hemorrahgic Fever Blamed In West Central Indiana Deer Shortage
Can We Trust A DNR Whose Director Is a Liar and Slight-of-Hand Artists?

By Don Jordan

posted 11/21/06

Indiana’s deer “gun” season opened last weekend, and there was no shortage of hunters although in some spots there was a shortage of deer.

While we all continue to see deer, sometimes hit them with our vehicles and chase them out of our summer gardens, white-tails were not as abundant in west central Indiana counties, including some in our area, probably because of a disease.

“A viral disease called EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) appears to be infecting, and often killing, wild white-tailed deer in west central Indiana,” reports the Indiana DNR. “EHD is not normally found in domestic animals, and is not transmissible to humans.

“Hoosier hunters and hikers have recently been finding and reporting to the DNR an unusual number of dead wild deer in Greene, Clay, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, Fountain and Vigo counties.”

According to the DNR, most of the dead deer were found in or near water. This, they say, is because the symptoms of EHD include high fever that sends infected deer seeking cool-off spots like ponds and streams.

“Sick deer may lose their appetite, coordination and their fear of normal dangers. Animals become dehydrated and progressively weaker, with mouth and eye tissue often showing a rosy or bluish color. A significant percentage of deer that contract EHD die within one to three days.

“Indiana deer hunters are asked to observe deer they intend to take for a brief time. If the deer's posture or behavior indicates the deer may be sick, don't take it. There appears to be no risk associated with direct exposure to or consumption of an EHD infected deer.

“Use common sense when cleaning and preparing any deer. Never kill or eat a sick deer. Use rubber gloves. Be sure meat is cooked thoroughly to kill any bacteria or organisms that may be present.

“EHD usually affects local deer populations until the first hard frost, which kills the biting midges that spread the disease. The last major Hoosier EHD outbreak occurred in southern Indiana in fall 1996,” reported the state agency.

You have probably heard of hemorrhagic fevers, most likely the one that kills humans, the dreaded Ebola. Ebola also kills within 24 hours.

And, remember all those bird flu stories? As those reports noted, diseases like Ebola and flu can “jump” species when there is a lot of human/animal contact. With so many big deer “farms” around these days where a lot of human/deer interaction takes place, it will be no huge surprise if some human comes down with EHD one of these years. It is worth noting that these “deer farmers” have tried for years to get white-tail deer classified as “livestock,” meaning they think deer are domestic animals already.

Although the DNR is saying domestic animals and humans do not get EHD, we all have cause to wonder about anything coming out of the giant state agency lately.

Remember the “ban” on canned hunting that turned into a state-approved monopoly for the canned hunting operations? How about the sneak-in-over-the-back-40 coal “exploratory” drilling by Black Beauty Coal at Glendale Fish & Wildlife Area?

Nobody wants to eat a sick deer, and even though the DNR tells us humans can’t get EHD, you just have to wonder don’t you?

Deer hunters in other parts of the state haven’t had so much difficulty finding deer as they have west of Bloomington, and according to most estimates, there could have been as many as 250,000 deer hunters afield throughout the state last weekend.

Did you notice more or fewer deer in your hunting area this year? Let me know. Hunters often know what’s happening in the field more quickly than the biologists. I would like to hear from you, especially if you noticed a marked reduction in white-tail opportunities in your hunting area.

Email me at indy@realindy.com with your assessment.

©Copyright 2006. Donald Lee Jordan