Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Deer disease spreads weeks before early PA archery season

Since the confirmation Aug. 17 of an outbreak of a lethal white-tailed  deer disease in southwestern Pennsylvania, the count of dead deer has risen from 150 to 450. More deaths are expected.
Less than three weeks before the start of the early antlerless archery season in Wildlife Management Unit 2B, the state Game Commission is investigating the spread of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties. It was first confirmed as the cause of a deer’s death in Greene Township, Beaver County.
The viral disease cannot be contracted by humans but could threaten livestock. EHD is not related to a more serious problem for Pennsylvania deer, chronic wasting disease, and cannot be spread deer-to-deer. Symptoms include a disheveled appearance, drooling, disorientation and bloody patches of skin. Infected deer are frequently found near water and die from extensive hemorrhages in five to 10 days.
The last major EHD outbreak in southwestern Pennsylvania was detected in August 2007. By November an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 wild deer became infected and died in Allegheny, Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties. A penned deer in Franklin county also died of EHD.
In 2012 a smaller outbreak spread through parts of Allegheny, Beaver, Greene and Westmoreland counties, as well as Cambria and Crawford counties. About 20 deer were killed by EHD on the grounds of Graterford State Correctional Facility in Skippack, Montgomery County.
The epizootic hemorrhagic virus is common among North American deer but the disease occurs more frequently in Southern states where the small flies that carry it, generically called midges, live longer. The insects die off with the season’s first frost.
Archers could find a dearth of deer in some locations when the season opens next month. The Game Commission noted that there is no evidence that EHD can lead to long-term negative impacts on deer populations. The agency is urging residents to report sightings of sick or dead deer by calling the Southwest Region office at 724-238- 9523.

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