TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - This summer's drought effects are expanding into hunting season. Thousands of the state's deer are dying. Biologists believe the deer are infected with a virus that causes Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD.
"It's a virus, and it's spread by a small biting insect called a midge," Department of Natural Resource's District Biologist Dean Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said EHD has been seen in deer since the 1990s, but this year's outbreak is more extreme, and it can be blamed on the drought. Zimmerman said the dry weather is perfect for midge reproduction.
"In the dry weather, the bodies of water tend to dry up a bit," Zimmerman said."The midges like to breed in the mudflats. The rivers are down, the ponds are down, and it exposes some of the mud banks."
Zimmerman said a deer with EHD will have flu-like symptoms, and can act distracted. He believes dead deer found in Tippecanoe, Carroll and Cass counties had the virus.
"In the last three weeks, I did get a report of two dead deer at Flint Creek near the West Point area," Zimmerman said.
As more dead deer are discovered, Zimmerman said it's becoming more likely it will affect hunters for years to come.
"We will look at the harvest in counties hit hard," Zimmerman said. "This year [hunters] may be able to take eight antler-less deer, or doe, we may have to drop them back to two antler less deer, or three, next year."
Although it's deadly to deer, EHD does not affect humans. Zimmerman said if you see a deer showing signs of EHD try not to kill it. If you do, Zimmerman said, the meat should be OK to eat.
"If the meat looks good and normal, if it smells good and normal, it's probably fine to consume," Zimmerman said.
If you come across a dead deer, Zimmerman said call DNR.
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