Deer walking in a field

According to the DEC, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease was found in Oswego County deer populations recently. The DEC added that hunters should not handle or eat deer that appear sick.

OSWEGO COUNTY — State environment officials Thursday announced a fatal disease afflicting deer has been found in Oswego County for the first time, and warned hunters to be on the lookout for the illness as deer hunting season approaches in central New York.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a fatal deer illness transferred by small biting midges, also called punkies. Deer hunting season in parts of Oswego County, and much of the surrounding area to the north, starts with early bow hunting season Sept. 27, with regular deer hunting season starting Oct. 23 in the northern zones and Nov. 20 in the state’s southern zones.

DEC officials said hunters should not handle or eat deer that appear sick or act strangely, and ask that sightings of sick or dying deer be reported to the nearest DEC Regional Office.

EHD can kill infected animals in less than 36 hours, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC officials said the deer can appear lame or dehydrated. While humans are not affected by this illness, deer with EHD suffer from fevers, hemorrhages in the muscles or organs, and swelling of the head, neck, tongue and lips.

The disease resembles the serious but rare illnesses Blue Tongue and Foot and Mouth Disease — an illness also transmitted by small midges. EHD primarily affects white-tailed deer populations throughout the northern United States, according to Cornell University Wildlife Health Lab.

Deer hunting season in New York started earlier this month and will continue in various forms, including bow hunting, crossbow, regular, special firearms and other season, according to DEC.

According to the DEC, EHD has killed approximately 700 deer this year in Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Nassau, Oswego, Suffolk and Ulster counties.

There is no effective treatment or prevention mechanisms for EHD, officials said. The first detection of EHD in New York this year came in July, but DEC officials said the disease has now “had time to circulate” and spread to deer populations throughout much of the state.

Earlier this week, DEC Wildlife Biologist Michael Schiavone told The Palladium-Times the DEC documented cases of EHD in Dutchess and Ulster counties, and noted officials were “following up on new reports of dead deer in counties in addition to those where EHD was present last year.”

Schiavone said the DEC would “continue to track the spread and estimate the number of deer succumbing to this disease.” Schiavone said the DEC at the time was monitoring and tracking “suspected cases” in Albany, Jefferson, Oneida, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties. Just days later the DEC announced the disease had been discovered in Oswego County.

EHD was first confirmed in the state in 2007 with small outbreaks throughout the Capital Region and Western New York. It was again detected in Rockland county in 2011, then again in Ulster, Dutchess, Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Columbia and Albany Counties last year.

Last year’s “large outbreak” killed roughly 1,500 deer, according to the DEC. State environmental officials this week said EHD is an “epidemic” among deer populations in southern states but noted southern deer populations have since grown immunity. New York’s deer populations have not fared as well.

“In the northeast, EHD outbreaks occur sporadically and deer in New York have no immunity to this virus,” the DEC said in a statement. “Consequently, most EHD-infected deer in New York are expected to die.”

EHD outbreaks typically don’t have long-term impacts on regional deer populations, according to the DEC, but the disease can have a significant impact on deer populations in small geographic areas. DEC officials said the first “hard frost” of winter typically kills the insects carrying the illness and puts an end to outbreaks. Individuals who find dead or sick deer are urged to report findings to the DEC online at https://www. dec.ny.gov or by contacting the nearest DEC Regional Wildlife Office. Dead deer do not act as a source for further EHD spread and do not need to be removed due to the illness, DEC officials said.

If a dead deer requires removal, the DEC recommends landowners to wear gloves when handling dead dear and thoroughly wash hands after. For more information visit https://www.dec.ny.gov.

(1) comment

Nroberts

There is misinformation here.

Deer can not transmit it to people nor other deer. Well no one would want to eat a sick deer unlike other diseases you can heat deer that had/has EHD.

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