Northern Plains hit hard by deer-killing disease

Wells Bowhunter67

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — White-tailed deer populations in parts of eastern Montana and elsewhere in the Northern Plains could take years to recover from a devastating disease that killed thousands of the animals in recent months, wildlife officials and hunting outfitters said.
In northeast Montana, officials said 90 percent or more of whitetail have been killed along a 100-mile stretch of the Milk River from Malta to east of Glasgow. Whitetail deaths also have been reported along the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in western North Dakota and eastern Montana and scattered sites in Wyoming, South Dakota and eastern Kansas.
The deaths are being attributed to an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD. Transmitted by biting midges, EHD causes internal bleeding that can kill infected animals within just a few days.
"I've been here 21 years and it was worse than any of us here have seen," said Pat Gunderson, the Glasgow-based regional supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "Right now it's going to take a few years to get things back to even a moderate population."
In North Dakota, state wildlife chief Randy Kreil described the outbreak as the most extensive and deadly in two decades.
Mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk and pronghorn also are susceptible to EHD, but it is particularly damaging to whitetail herds, animal health experts said. Livestock can be infected but typically show few symptoms.
Researchers say the virus that causes EHD does not infect people and there is no risk of eating or handling infected deer,
More precise estimates of the number of whitetail killed are expected after agencies conduct winter population counts and survey fall hunter success.
Periodic outbreaks of EHD occur in whitetail herds across the country. Wildlife officials say the outbreak in the Northern Plains stands out for the high number of deaths and wide area affected.
Animal health experts suspect it was triggered by an exceptionally wet spring that led to lots of muddy breeding habitat for the biting midges that carry the disease. A warm fall meant the midges lingered and continued transmitting EHD to deer.
The outbreak followed a harsh winter that already had knocked down deer numbers across the region.
In response to those winter deaths, Gunderson said the number of hunting tags offered in northeast Montana was reduced from 5,000 to 4,000. After the EHD outbreak began in late summer, sales of another 2,000 tags were suspended.
In western North Dakota, 1,500 licenses were suspended and the state offered refunds for deer tags already sold. More than 630 people took advantage of the refunds, said Randy Meissner, license manager for North Dakota Game and Fish.
Hunting outfitter Eric Albus in Hinsdale, Mont., said his business ran one archery hunting trip along the Milk River this fall, compared to 40 or 50 hunts in prior years.
"It was horrendous," Albus said, "especially when you couple it with the fact that we lost 40 to 45 percent of our whitetail in the winter."
To satisfy his customers, Albus said he leased alternate properties to hunt on that were up to 350 miles away from Hinsdale.
In southern states where deer have a history of exposure to EHD, death rates from the disease are relatively low, said David Stallknecht with the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, which has been tracking EHD for more than 30 years.
Whitetail in northern states are more likely to die because they lack the antibodies from previous exposures needed to help fight off the disease, said Stallknecht, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia.
He said a better picture of the outbreak will come later this year, after state wildlife agencies from across the country submit annual animal mortality data to the Southeastern Cooperative
Notwithstanding the disease's economic impacts to the region's hunting industry, Gunderson said the loss of so many deer along the Milk and Missouri rivers could have an upside.
Along some stretches of the river, a combination of animal grazing and ice jams scraping the riverbank each winter have prevented cottonwood trees from regenerating for decades.
After the region's record spring floods allowed seedlings to take root high up on the banks, where they are more protected, Gunderson said a new crop of trees could thrive with so many whitetail gone.
"We won't have the tremendous deer population browsing on them, so hopefully we'll get the cottonwoods along these river bottoms that will take us through the next 100 years," he said.
 

bbruno

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wow that is sad for sure. Mother nature is pretty harsh.
 
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MBullism

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In all seriousness, that's horrible, but nature will self correct...

more importantly, what are we gonna do for hunting shows for the foreseeable future? :confused:;)
 
N

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It's tragic that these animals had to suffer due to man trying to farm wildlife. This is a direct result of outfitters/landowners taking concern with revenue before the resource. One can only hope this is a lesson learned......but I highly doubt it.
 

RememberBaker

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It's tragic that these animals had to suffer due to man trying to farm wildlife. This is a direct result of outfitters/landowners taking concern with revenue before the resource. One can only hope this is a lesson learned......but I highly doubt it.
I don't understand the correlation, how is man involved?
 
N

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I don't understand the correlation, how is man involved?
Just my opinion, but if you lease up a pile of land, limit the amount of hunters all to balloon the amount of deer on "your property" then animals get sick. Do you disagree that they are farming whitetails in the mid-west?

One thing that shows they are over populated is the fact they mentioned the cotton wood is chewed right down.

In these places, hunting is not being used as the primary objective to conservation. The primary objective is to see how big you can get bucks, therefore making as much money of the resource that one can.

This is why my feelings about baiting, feeding, leasing, AR's or any other thing that man thinks they know more about mother nature than she does pisses me off. How many leased farms out west got hit with the drop in the economy? I gotta beleive that there isn't nearly the guys that are headed out to these places as there was in the 2005 area. So that's less money being returned to the animals for feed in these false habitats they build for them. All so they can have big numbers when they put a guy in a treestand. Shit for 5 grand they better show you some deer!!!!! This is the results of this happening. If the deer were not so over populated, it would have never spread that bad.

That's why when N.E F&G Depts. tell you we have a healthy deer herd this is what they mean. One plague won't wipe out 50% of the herds.
 
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2browndogs

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Just my opinion, but if you lease up a pile of land, limit the amount of hunters all to balloon the amount of deer on "your property" then animals get sick. Do you disagree that they are farming whitetails in the mid-west?

One thing that shows they are over populated is the fact they mentioned the cotton wood is chewed right down.

In these places, hunting is not being used as the primary objective to conservation. The primary objective is to see how big you can get bucks, therefore making as much money of the resource that one can.

This is why my feelings about baiting, feeding, leasing, AR's or any other thing that man thinks they know more about mother nature than she does pisses me off. How many leased farms out west got hit with the drop in the economy? I gotta beleive that there isn't nearly the guys that are headed out to these places as there was in the 2005 area. So that's less money being returned to the animals for feed in these false habitats they build for them. All so they can have big numbers when they put a guy in a treestand. Shit for 5 grand they better show you some deer!!!!! This is the results of this happening. If the deer were not so over populated, it would have never spread that bad.

That's why when N.E F&G Depts. tell you we have a healthy deer herd this is what they mean. One plague won't wipe out 50% of the herds.
Ya right, like all of Montana is for farming deer. I think not. So If we follow your logic, then HUNTING itself is artificial and not needed, let nature be the only ruling force.

NH, here something from one of your own posts:

Con 2.

They make every hunter become a self proclaimed bioligist, even though they don't have a degree in the matter.

Sounds like you need to heed your own words!
 
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N

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Ya right, like all of Montana is for farming deer. I think not. So If we follow your logic, then HUNTING itself is artificial and not needed, let nature be the only ruling force.

NH, here something from one of your own posts:

Con 2.

They make every hunter become a self proclaimed bioligist, even though they don't have a degree in the matter.

Sounds like you need to heed your own words!



so a healthy deerherd is over populating an area so bad that the trees are mowwed down? Sure that makes sense. As long as there's big bucks than everything is good.....right?

As for the words, I take time to talk to bioligist, not listen to what a t.v personality that is getting to hunt a leased ranch in trade to promote it says is good for the deer. How many seminars have you attended?
 
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bigbore442001

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I feel bad for the local hunters that have been pushed out of their traditional hunting grounds on these ranches when this big lease movement started.

I recall my Dad telling me when he got married his honeymoon involved driving out to Wyoming to hunt deer. He put his rifle in the trunk of the car and they took off. At that time his non resident license was 25 bucks and not one ranch was posted. It was like northern New England. Open land was huntable. You just went out and the farmers and ranchers did not care if you hunted.

Times have changed and not for the better in many cases.
 
N

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I feel bad for the local hunters that have been pushed out of their traditional hunting grounds on these ranches when this big lease movement started.

I recall my Dad telling me when he got married his honeymoon involved driving out to Wyoming to hunt deer. He put his rifle in the trunk of the car and they took off. At that time his non resident license was 25 bucks and not one ranch was posted. It was like northern New England. Open land was huntable. You just went out and the farmers and ranchers did not care if you hunted.

Times have changed and not for the better in many cases.
I spoke with an older fella from Illinois a couple years ago. He said basicly the samething. He was also saying that the neighboring farm he used to hunt was bought by an outfitter. They posted it, could care less that this 70 something year old man grew up hunting there and told him to beat it. I have a hard time in seeing the "health" of anything being good in that situtation.

This happened IMO due to the fact that hunters were not allowed to do thier job, and that's to reduce herds. Unless of course you have a fat check book balance, then you could thin as many as you want. It would seem awful coincidental that during an economic drop this would be the result on some of these ranches and farms. I'm honestly surprised it hasn't happened before now.

When I have taken the time to speak to Biologist, they have been very clear that it's actually harder to reduce herd numbers once you have them VS. achieve those herd numbers desired. In other words, once an area is over populated.......without killing many at once, you would be screwing up the habitat.
 

lil John

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In all seriousness, that's horrible, but nature will self correct...

more importantly, what are we gonna do for hunting shows for the foreseeable future? :confused:;)
Don't they still have that show "bone collectors" on?
 


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