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Conservation-What is EHD By: Nick Buseman, Grundy County Conservation Operation Supervisor

October 10, 2019
Reinbeck Courier
October first marks the first day of Iowa’s archery season. The kick off to my favorite time of year. If you are like me, you have several trail cameras up assisting you in taking inventory of the bucks using your farm. For some they are able to keep close tabs of their deer by going through picture or glassing them from afar. When they don’t continue to show up the worry of EHD is a real concern. The horror stories of fellow hunters and landowners finding dead dear near or in a water source has been posted on social media for the last few weeks. The dry weather we had in August has allowed the EHD or Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease to expand further north in Iowa. EHD is as deadly disease that is transmitted to a deer by a biting midge (culicoides) known as “no-see-ums” gnats and small flies smaller than a mosquito. With severe dry conditions these midges will swarm in areas of water, such as streams, ponds, or marches. The midge needs warm stagnant water or moist mud to reproduce. With water supplies drying up deer and these midges are forced to use the same water sources to survive. These biting midges will bite many animals therefore spreading this deadly disease. A devastating disease! In most cases EHD is a fatal disease, but in rare cases the animal can survive. Once a deer has contacted the disease it will experience a high fever, swollen head, neck, tongue, eyelids, and has a hard time breathing. Deer usually die within one to three days with a severe infection. Some will live longer eventually dying from malnutrition. The ones that survive the disease are thought to develop a resistance to the disease. Most cases due to the high fever you will find the deceased animal in a stream or pond. A totally devastating disease that can reduce a population by up to 50% in severe cases. So far in Iowa there has been lots of cases of the disease south of us, but there has been a few cases as far north as Tama County. If you find deer dead in a water source give your conservation officer a call. To test the animal they need to be super fresh so they can remove the spleen for testing. The Grundy County Conservation officer is Tyson Brown. His number is 641-751-5246. Mother Nature will be the one to stop this epidemic this year. To stop it we will need a killing frost to kill the midges. As a farmer myself, I know many are not wanting an early frost, but it is what it will take to stop it from killing more deer. The heavy rains we have had should help slow the disease down just by spreading the watering areas out. Many may be asking if it is safe to eat a deer that may have contracted the disease; there is no evidence that a human can contract or get ill from consuming an infected animal. EHD only affects hooved animals. Good luck this fall, stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors. Make sure to get the next generation out there too. They are our future.


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