April 18, 2014

Virus wipes out thousands of Nebraska deer, hunting may be restricted

Nebraska’s deer hunters are talking about epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a virus causing significant losses to the state’s white-tailed deer herd.

Hunters in northern and eastern counties say they have seen large numbers of dead deer floating down rivers, in creek channels and in cut grain fields.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission have received more than 3,000 reports regarding dead deer.

Because of this, Nebraska Game and Parks spokesman Greg Wagner says the Commission will consider cutting the number of deer permits at its board meeting in North Platte on October 26th.

Wagner says they’re looking at reducing antlerless only permits, targeting whitetail does, by between 20 and 50 percent in the 18 management units statewide.

Wagner says the effect of the disease ranges from no impact to a serious impact.

He says some farmers say disease losses may be 20 to 30 deer while other farmers just a few miles away say they have no deaths at all. Wagner says indicents are widely varied and it is not an epidemic.

Wagner says the disease does not affect people.

“If you happen to shoot a deer that may have this, there’s no affect on us at all,” Wagner says. “There’s no affect on us humans if we eat one, no affect on pets, there’s very little overall affect on livestock.”

EHD is caused by biting midges and usually occurs in late summer and early fall. The disease kills some deer each year, but harsh drought conditions throughout the state have accelerated its impact on Nebraska’s white-tailed deer herd.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton