GLASGOW – Over the last several weeks, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has received reports of dead or dying white-tailed deer along Eastern Montana's river drainages.
Early indications showed patterns and symptoms similar to epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and tissue samples taken from several dead deer were submitted for testing. Early results indicate that at least some of the deer tested positive for EHD.
In northeast Montana, the western extent of the disease appears to be along the Milk River near Saco, then east along the Milk and Missouri rivers to North Dakota, with varying degrees of whitetail mortality in between.
In southeast Montana the most severe areas have been reported on the Yellowstone River between Glendive and Sidney, as well as many areas throughout Carter County.
Impacts to local populations can be highly variable. Hunters should plan accordingly if they plan to hunt in one of the affected areas. Surplus whitetail B licenses (699-00) in Region 6 were decreased by 2,000 in response to the disease.
Anyone finding a dead or dying white-tailed deer is asked to contact the nearest FWP biologist or office. If possible, provide information on the species, number of individuals, behaviors, symptoms observed and a general location.
EHD is an infectious, sometimes fatal virus that is usually spread by a gnat or midge. Many animals affected with EHD lose their appetite, often are drawn to water, lose their fear of people, grow weak and typically die. This disease is often confused with blue tongue, which is a separate but similar disease. EHD is not transmissible to humans.
The disease mostly impacts white-tailed deer, but also shows up in mule deer and antelope. EHD outbreaks typically occur in river bottoms and along large creeks, likely due to higher concentrations of white-tailed deer and the insects that transmit EHD. These outbreaks often end when a hard frost kills the insects that carry the disease.
More information on EHD can be found on the FWP website at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/diseases/ehd-blue-tongue.