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IL & IA Face Deer Virus Outbreak for 2nd Year


A virus that is deadly to deer is being seen in Illinois and Iowa for the second year in a row.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, EHD, is caused by a virus and triggers massive internal bleeding in deer.

It’s spread by gnats, which thrive in dry conditions, like those caused by the drought in the late summer months this year. The gnats live in mudflats, which grow in dry years as water sources dry up and shrink.

The Illinois DNR reports the outbreak is less severe, with less deer deaths, compared to last year.

Wildlife Researcher Jim Coffey with the Iowa DNR said the same is true in Iowa statewide. Though he said parts of Eastern and Southeast Iowa are actually being harder hit than last year.

He said Southeast Iowa has a lower deer population anyway because of increased hunting, but  if the deer population is much lower than normal, it might be EHD.

"Now if you're really seeing no deer then I would start talking to some of the landowners and saying 'hey was EHD in effect in this area this year' and maybe do a little scouting and moving around to find those bedding areas and feeding areas where the deer are still moving," Coffey said.

Coffey said the statewide deer harvest in Iowa is keeping pace with last year, but that's only for bow-hunting. The shotgun seasons, which are more popular, start next month.

Scott Stuntz is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.