Most people probably associate EHD with drought. In dry years, like the big EHD year of 2012, water levels drop exposing mud flats that become a nesting ground for the midges that carry the disease.
But is it happening again this year, even with all the rain we’ve had?
I’ve heard multiple reports of dead deer found in Adams County in the last few weeks. I know Adams County had large numbers of EHD reported in 2007. They were the top county in the INHS survey in 2013. That makes at least 3 of the last 4 years for Adams County if the most recent reports this year are true. ***(One quick edit… since posting this story I’ve heard that other cases have been reported in Pike and Morgan Counties as well)***
According to IWA board member, and biologist, Lee Mitchell, 2015 could be setting up like other EHD years, although probably on a much more limited scale. The higher waters from earlier in the year have started to recede, again exposing muddy areas perfect for the insect hatch. Unlike 2012 when EHD was reported in 87 of IL’s 102 counties, any die-off this year could be the stereotypical outbreak when the disease is very concentrated in very specific locations.
In general, hunters don’t have a very good track record of reporting EHD deer. According to a recent survey by Illinois Natural History Survey, less than 6% of those who found a dead deer in 2013 reported it. Do that math. No wonder IDNR was convinced that EHD had little impact in years like 2012. The reporting rates from the INHS survey paint the true picture that EHD was MUCH bigger than was reported to IDNR.
But how many people knew how to report it? In 2012, I remember looking on the IDNR website for a solid 30 minutes looking for any kind of link or directions on who to contact. I just tried it again, and still no luck. After a Google search, I did find a press release from 2 years ago with this imbedded in the story:
If you’re out and about over the next few months, it doesn’t hurt to be on the lookout. If you do find dead deer, you should report it to IDNR. While these reports may not influence the overall management plan in a specific area, we can’t complain about under-reporting if 95 people out of 100 won’t take the time to report what they find!