Disease Causes Cut in South Dakota Deer Licenses
Posted at: 09/19/2012 5:12 PM
| Updated at: 09/19/2012 5:56 PM
By: CHET BROKAW, Associated Press
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The number of deer licenses will be reduced in some West River hunting units because disease has killed many white-tailed deer, South Dakota wildlife officials said Wednesday. Similar cuts in licenses also have been proposed for some East River units.
The Game, Fish and Parks Department also announced it will allow already-licensed deer hunters to get refunds because some farms and ranches may where they planned to hunt have outbreaks of the disease.
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, known as EHD, has been particularly bad in some areas of south-central and southeastern South Dakota. Hunters, farmers and game wardens have reported more than 1,100 dead deer suspected to have fallen victim to the disease, which is spread by a biting midge.
State Wildlife Director Tony Leif said South Dakota usually sees some EHD among white-tailed deer, but this outbreak is the worst in recent years. EHD seems to be most prevalent in the southern James River and Missouri River valleys and on the prairie north of the Black Hills in Butte, Meade and Lawrence counties.
"Even in those affected areas, there are areas that are hotspots where we are finding a lot. But a short distance away, we don't have any reported deaths," Leif told The Associated Press.
"Certainly, the hot, dry weather, the drought, has contributed to the disease this year," Leif said.
The Game, Fish and Parks Department announced that all unsold West River deer licenses will be removed from units 11A-09 and 11B-17 in Bennett County, units 30A-19 and 30B-19 in Gregory County and unit 39B-09 in Jackson County. Another 200 licenses will be removed from unit 49B-09 in Meade County.
Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Jeff Vonk said the department also will ask the Game, Fish and Parks Commission to remove all unsold East River licenses in Bon Homme, Hutchinson and Yankton counties and to make significant reductions in leftover licenses in Brule and Charles Mix counties for the second draw in the East River season.
"Between now and the next commission meeting, we will continue our surveillance efforts with the possibility of additional license reductions," Vonk said in a written statement. The commission meets Oct. 4-5 in Deadwood.
Hunters are currently applying for licenses leftover from the initial drawing. A state rule allows Vonk to remove the leftover licenses in the West River units because a second drawing has already been held. Commission approval is required for the East River units because the second drawing is not completed.
"We want to be upfront. We're trying to get the word out to folks so they can plan accordingly," Leif said.
Deer hunters can get refunds for their license fees if they return them before the start of a season. Leif said he does not know how many hunters will decide to return their licenses.
EHD primarily affects white-tailed deer, rather than mule deer, and causes extensive internal hemorrhaging. Many deer show no signs of the disease 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 die within one to three days.
In an attempt to combat the high fever, infected deer are often found in low-lying area or near rivers, ponds and other water. EHD is not infectious to humans.
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