Officials Tracking Disease In White-Tailed Deer For 2Nd Year

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota wildlife officials say a disease in white-tailed deer that last year prompted refunds to thousands of hunters is once again showing up in some areas of the state.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease — commonly known as EHD — is a viral disease transmitted by biting gnats. The hardest-hit area appears to be within a 20-mile radius of the Bismarck-Mandan area with localized outbreaks elsewhere, Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Charlie Bahnson said.

“We see a low level of EHD activity most years, but every so often, environmental factors line up to make for a bad season,” Bahnson said. “Last year, southwest North Dakota was hit relatively hard by EHD. Right now, it appears that the virus is picking up where it left off, with most cases coming from locations on the edge of 2020’s heavily affected areas."

Last year the department offered license refunds to more than 9,000 deer hunters. Officials monitored the outbreak for about two weeks before deciding on the refunds, a process that likely will be repeated this year, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

“It’s certainly an option that we’ll consider,” he said. “We’re not at the point where we’re going to pull that lever right yet.”

EHD has been present in North Dakota for decades. It impacts white-tailed deer more than mule deer, due to the makeup of the animals.