Fish and Game staff is monitoring the extent of the disease causing deer to die across the region. Test results have not confirmed which type of hemorrhagic disease is causing deer deaths in the Kamiah area. Deer death numbers are increasing in other areas throughout the region. Hemorrhagic disease is not uncommon to white-tailed deer. Fish and Game wildlife staff anticipated the potential for a disease outbreak due to the nature of this year’s extended hot and dry weather. This summer created ideal conditions for deer to congregate at water sources where the disease carrying biting gnat resides. The number of dead deer is expected to continue to increase until the first hard frost kills gnat populations.
The following are frequently asked questions regarding hemorrhagic diseases (HD). For more information, contact the Clearwater regional office at (208) 799-5010.
Q: What are clinical signs of HD in deer?
A: Infected deer become lethargic and lose their appetite, become weak, can have bloody diarrhea, and show excessive salivation. They develop a rapid pulse and respiration rate along with fever, which is why they are frequently found lying in bodies of water to reduce their body temperature.
Q: How is HD spread?
A: Hemorrhagic diseases can be spread to deer via the bites of Culicoides gnats (biting midges, no-see-ums) or deer to deer. Low water conditions and stagnant pools and ponds provide ideal breeding conditions for the gnats that transmit HD. No prevention methods exist. Deer death numbers are likely to continue to increase until the weather cools and a hard frost kills biting gnat populations.
Q: What time of year is HD usually observed?
A: Hemorrhagic diseases are not uncommon to the Clearwater region. These disease outbreaks usually occur in late summer or early fall when warm and dry conditions cause animals to congregate at limited water supplies where the gnats also like to breed.
Q: Can HD be spread to humans or pets?
A: Humans and domestic pets such as dogs and cats cannot be infected with the HD disease. White-tailed deer are particularly susceptible, but it can affect mule deer. Cattle and sheep can be exposed to the virus but they rarely exhibit clinical signs to the varieties of HD that typically affect wildlife.
Q: What is the impact to deer in our area? How will this affect my hunting season?
A: We do not know yet. Big game hunters should have good hunting for 2021, but there are some disease concerns. As of now, we estimate that several hundred deer have died in our region. We anticipate the death toll to increase into the next month or so until we experience cold enough weather conditions to kill the disease carrying gnat. Fish and Game is monitoring the disease closely and will assess deer numbers as disease issues subside.
Q: Is the meat of an infected deer safe to eat?
A: Our veterinary staff never recommends eating an animal with a fever and a widespread systemic infection. Deer that survive a HD infection are safe to eat. These animals may exhibit a dark gritty liver. Our veterinary staff also always recommends thoroughly cooking all game meat.
Q: What is IDFG doing to monitor the disease?
A: IDFG veterinarians and biologists are monitoring the extent of this disease. Fish and Game asks the public to contact the wildlife health lab online at https://idfg. idaho.gov/conservation/wildlife-health/add to report sick and injured wildlife.
Q: If I have a dead deer on my property, what do I do?
A: At the expense of Idaho Fish and Game, dead deer can be taken to Simmons Sanitation, 3226 Highway 12, Kamiah, ID (208) 935-2617 Idaho Fish and Game encourages neighbors to help neighbors. If you or you know of someone that has a dead deer on their property, please assist them with removal.
Q: What can I do to help?
A: Due to the potential deer-to-deer transmission route, Fish and Game officials continue to encourage people to remove food and water sources that attract and congregate deer.
Dead deer can be taken to Simmons Sanitation for disposal at the expense of Fish and Game. Idaho Fish and Game officers are stretched thin and are not able to keep up with all the reports. Please assist your friend or neighbor with disposing of animals that they may have on or near their property.
Report dead or sick deer online at the Wildlife Health webpage. Contact Idaho Fish and Game Clearwater region office for more information (208) 799-5010.