The southern suburban area of Crete, Illinois, has seen a recent increase in the number of deer deaths. Residents are finding dying or dead deer in forests and backyards on the eastern perimeter of Will County. This area was once home to over 600 deer but that figure is quickly decreasing.
According to David Green, a resident of Crete, “This morning, another died in my boss’ backyard. They’re all over the place. The smell is horrendous.” Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, is being attributed as the cause for the deaths of over 30 of these deer. Late last month, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources began investigating the situation and pointed to EHD as their finding.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that EHD is commonly found in white-tailed deer but rarely occurs in other species. Biting gnats are the carriers of the disease so it usually occurs during the driest part of the year. EHD is not contagious between deer and cannot be transferred to humans.
This disease incubates for five to ten days and usually recedes once cold, wet weather arrives and causes the deer to move from areas infested by gnats. The gnats are killed by the first hard frost, which effectively reduces the spread of EHD. However, deer who have already contracted the disease may still be in the incubation stage at this time, so additional casualties may be found after this period.
Signs of EHD include frothing from the mouth, a swollen tongue that turns blue, disorientation, lethargy, unresponsiveness toward humans, and death near a water source. Crete residents have reported seeing deer with all of these symptoms in the local area. Though Mr. Green states, “We’re just accumulating so many of them it’s scary,” this outbreak is relatively small. During 2007, a major outbreak in the state resulted in 1,900 deer casualties within 57 counties.
Source: SouthtownStar. Chicago Sun-Times. Virus killing deer near south suburb.