Iowa DNR monitoring deer population for fatal disease - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa DNR monitoring deer population for fatal disease

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is keeping a close eye on the deer population as a fatal disease spreads across the Midwest.

The DNR says they are getting scattered reports of dead deer around water which is likely being caused by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD.

"Losses due to EHD occur annually, usually at low levels and in localized areas," said Dr. Dale Garner, chief of Wildlife for the Iowa DNR, in a written statement. "In dry years it can be worse as deer are more concentrated around water and since the disease is spread by a biting midge, more deer can become infected. This could be one of those years and DNR staff have been on the lookout for increased incidence of the disease."

EHD causes high fever in infected deer and also cause the cell walls in their heart, lungs and diaphragm to weaken and burst. The deer are attracted to water to combat the fever and dehydration due to the hemorrhaging.

"The last widespread outbreak in Iowa was 1998. Even then, the impact on hunting was minimal," said Garner.

If you see a sick or dead deer near water, call your local conservation officer or wildlife biologist.

"We would like to collect tissue samples to identify what strain of EHD we are dealing with and to rule out any other cause of death," Garner said.

The disease, which is also showing up in Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri and Michigan, will remain active until rain disperses the deer or a heavy frost kills the midges.

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