The World Around Us:

A Hopeful Spring for New York’s White Tail Deer

Credit: Amanda Panda, Unsplash

Last year, thousands of New York’s white tail deer were infected with Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in late summer and fall. Sadly, EHD in white tail deer is almost always fatal. EHD deaths among New York’s deer were found in more than 30 counties. It’s suspected that thousands of deaths have gone unreported.

This viral disease is transmitted by bites from midges, small insects we often call gnats, or, no-see-ums, that are believed to have been brought to New York by hurricanes in the south. Unfortunately, last year’s dry summer in the state served as an ideal breeding ground for these insects.

Once bitten, a deer will become symptomatic within seven to ten days.

EHD causes deer to hemorrhage internally. Outward symptoms include confusion, foaming at the mouth, lameness, high fever, and swollen head, neck, and tongue. Deer succumb to the disease in as little as 8 to 36 hours after symptoms appear. EHD cannot be transmitted from deer to deer, to other animals, or to humans.

Though our deer have been hard hit by this disease, we can begin the equinox knowing that insects carrying EHD will have been long dead with the first frost, leaving deer, and us, ever more hopeful of spring and rejuvenation.

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXXIX, Spring 2022.