Preliminary lab results were positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) virus in a sample of a dead deer from Clark County the DNR staff submitted to a lab for testing early this month.

Additional testing is required to determine the strain of EHD virus. Results of testing of samples from deer from several other counties are pending.

EHD is a viral disease affecting white-tailed deer to some degree every year. It typically occurs during late summer and early fall, and there is evidence outbreaks may be worse during drought years. EHD is transmitted by flies commonly known as biting midges, sand gnats, and “no-see-ums.” Humans are not at risk for contracting hemorrhagic disease.

The testing came about from investigations DNR staff have been conducting after receiving reports of sick or dead deer in central and south-central Indiana. Clark County seems to be experiencing the most intense outbreaks thus far, but suspect reports have come from 10 counties in all.

“Although the reports DNR is receiving are consistent with EHD episodes of past years, it’s important for testing to be done on samples before it can be confirmed,” said Dr. Joe Caudell, DNR deer research biologist. “Samples need to be collected as soon as possible after the deer dies to be most useful for testing.”

Caudell worked with Indiana Conservation Officers to collect an adequate sample, the one testing positive for EHD, on August 2.

“Deer infected with EHD may appear depressed or weak and often seek out water. Other signs may include a blue-tinged tongue, swelling of the head, neck or eyelids, ulcers on the tongue and the oral cavity, or sloughed hooves,” said Dr. Nancy Boedeker, DNR wildlife veterinarian.

Hemorrhagic disease is often fatal to deer, but some will survive the illness. Not every deer in an affected area will contract hemorrhagic disease. Localized death losses during an outbreak can range from negligible to greater than 50 percent. Outbreaks may be more severe in years in which there is a wet spring followed by a hot, dry fall. Severe outbreaks rarely occur in subsequent years due to immunity gathered from previous infections.

The DNR monitors for EHD annually. EHD and BTV (Blue Tongue Virus) have been known to exist since about the 1890s. The diseases have been found in most of the United States with the exception of the extreme Northeast and the Southwest. EHD has a limited number of host animals. White-tailed deer, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope have been reported to die of infections. Of the three, white-tailed deer is the species most susceptible to EHD.

Major outbreaks of EHD have been reported in the United States for decades. Small outbreaks occur yearly in various areas in the United States. Major outbreaks are sporadic occurrences and in many cases do not recur in the same geographic areas. EHD is a naturally occurring disease in our region. Occasionally Indiana DNR receives reports of small, isolated outbreaks. However, major outbreaks are cyclic (about every five years or so). Indiana has experienced two major outbreaks of EHD:

2007: EHD confirmed in 36 counties and suspected in an additional 23 counties.

2012: EHD confirmed in 29 counties and suspected in an additional 38 counties.

“If you see a deer that you suspect may have died from EHD, you can report it directly to the DNR through our website at deer.dnr.IN.gov,” Caudell said. “Just click on the link for Report a Dead or Sick Deer.”

APPLE Reserved Hunt Applications

Access Program Providing Land Enhancements (APPLE) offers quail, pheasant, and woodcock hunting opportunities on private property. The hunts are allocated through the online reserved hunt system, and the online application is the only way to apply. Hunters may apply for one hunting period. Although the hunting period is for a period two days, selected hunters may only hunt one day of the two-day period.

Applications are accepted from August 13 to September 23. Draw result notifications will be emailed within two weeks of the application deadline. Successfully drawn applicants will be allowed two hunting partners. All regulations and bag limits apply.

Hunters may register for the hunts and check the status of the draw, once it is available at on.IN.gov/reservedhunt

APPLE offers financial incentives to landowners who allow controlled public access hunting on their private lands. Wildlife biologists also work with landowners to establish and improve habitat.

New Hudson Lake Public Access

What had been the largest public freshwater lake in Indiana without a public access site now has one. The Indiana DNR received a donation of land adjacent to Hudson Lake in LaPorte County in 2018 for the development of a boat launch. The DeGroote family kindly donated the site which is dedicated to a family member who lost his life in the early 20th century.

The Division of Fish & Wildlife has prioritized Hudson Lake for public access development for more than 20 years.

Readers can contact Jack Spaulding by e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net