PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has received nearly 1,200 reports of dead white-tailed deer likely due to epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). Reports of deer loss have been documented in 38 counties, with EHD confirmed in 17 counties through laboratory testing.
In response to the documented cases and concerns shared by sportsmen and women as well as landowners, GFP is removing all remaining antlerless licenses from the following East River firearm hunting units: Aurora, Brule, Buffalo, Douglas, Hand, Hughes, Jerauld, Miner, Sanborn, and East and West Sully.
In addition, voluntary refunds will be offered to individuals who have already received a deer license for any East River firearm hunting unit and the West River hunting units 45A and 45B in Lyman County. Preference points will be reinstated for individuals seeking a refund for licenses issued in the first deer drawing.
The disease seems to be most prevalent in central and southeastern South Dakota and it is unknown as to how many more deer will be reported as hunting seasons and crop harvest begins.
“These actions are intended to lessen the impact on deer populations in hunting units where management objectives are to maintain or increase deer populations,” said Chad Switzer, wildlife program administrator. “We appreciate the landowners and hunters who have contacted staff to report and document these losses. This is a great example of how the information exchange between our agency and our customers helps manage our natural resources.”
Deer hunters questioning the return of their license for a refund are encouraged to visit with those landowners in areas where they have permission to hunt to best determine the local status and impact from EHD.
Those who want to take advantage of the option to return a license for a refund need to mail the license/tags to: GFP Licensing Office, 20641 SD Hwy 1806, Fort Pierre, SD 57532. East River deer licenses must be post-marked by Nov. 19, 2016. West River deer licenses (45A and 45B in Lyman County) must be post-marked by Nov. 12, 2016. Refund checks will be mailed after these dates.
This disease is common in white-tailed deer and is typically detected in late summer or early fall. The virus is spread by a biting midge and causes extensive internal hemorrhaging. Many deer exhibit no clinical signs and appear perfectly healthy, while others may have symptoms such as respiratory distress, fever, and swelling of the tongue. With highly virulent strains of the virus, deer can be dead within one to three days. Affected deer are often found near low lying areas or near water like a river or a pond. This is due to the deer attempting to go to the water to combat the high fever. EHD is not infectious to humans. For more information on the EHD virus and to view a map updated weekly of reported dead deer, visit http://gfp.sd.gov/wildlife/diseases/epizootic-hemorrhagic-disease.aspx.