ELKINS, W.Va. — As hunters get ready to open the 2017 archery hunting season in West Virginia, the Division of Natural Resources has announced there has been an outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in several counties.
“We’ve got several counties where we’re losing deer right now,” said Game Management Supervisor Gary Foster. “Since the news release came out I think there have been two or three additional counties with confirmation. ”
This year, deer in Boone, Brooke, Hancock, Lincoln, Marshall, Ohio, Tucker and Wayne counties have died from EHDV, which is normally only a concern until the cold weather arrives.
“Primarily it’s a disease that shows up in August and September,” said Foster. “As soon as we get a good frost, it will kill the vector which is a small, biting midge that spread it. Then it will all come to an end. ”
Outbreaks of EHDV in West Virginia are not uncommon, but they are unsettling. Generally when a group of deer contracts the disease it scan leave a large number dead in a single spot. As unsightly and terrifying as it might appear, Foster added it doesn’t have any great impact on West Virginia’s whitetail population.
“Typically when we have outbreaks, they’re localized and typically no more than 25 percent of the population in a local area will be impact,” Foster explained. “If you look at harvest figures over the last five to ten years where we’ve had outbreaks, it may be down for a year, but it didn’t really have that big of a long term affect.”
The last large outbreaks occurred in 1996, 2002, 2007 and 2012. EHDV does not persist in deer that survive infection. Although hunters should never consume meat from an obviously sick animal, deer affected by EHDV are usually safe to eat. Landowners and hunters are urged to report sick or dead deer to their nearest DNR district office.