The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

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By Bill Stevenson
Whitman County Gazette 

Deer found dying , testing EHD positive


Last updated 9/2/2021 at 11:55am

COLFAX – About 80 dead white-tail deer have been found so far around the city.

Public works have picked up the dead deer found in city limits, Police Chief Bruce Blood said last week.

Four of the deer were found while they were alive and ill. They were dispatched by officers.

“To let them go would have left them suffering,” he said. “It’s tragic that something like this happens.”

Blood said a similar situation happened in 2015.

“It’s not very unusual, unfortunately. When it gets hot and dry it’s not an uncommon occurrence,” state Department of Fish and Wildlife spokewsoman Staci Lehman said. “It’s not a huge number.”

Around Kamiah, Idaho, the Idaho Fish and Game are reporting approximately 250-300 white-tail deer found dead.

Samples taken from the dead white-tail deer in Whitman County were sent to Washington State University for testing to determine the cause of death.

The deer tested positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, which is delivered by midges, or small flies, said Lehman. The drought and heat waves are pushing deer to drink from more swampy areas of water where midges live. They bite and pass on the virus to the deer.

Two dead deer found in Lincoln County were also sampled.

Bluetongue disease was found in the Lincoln County deer. It’s also delivered by midges and is barely distinguishable from EHD.

“It’s not always fatal,” Lehman said of EHD.

Wildfires are contributing to the white-tail deer moving from their habitat to “where we don’t normally see them,” said Lehman. They are seeking safety, clean air, and water.

When finding a dead deer, people should contact local county or city governments. The WDFW does not collect dead animal carcasses.

Regarding eating the scavenged dead deer, the WDFW doesn’t recommend it and strongly suggests following proper cooking techniques and meat handling to insure safety.

“We ask that people be very careful about that,” said Lehman. “The viruses that cause these diseases do not affect humans.”

If people see unusual behavior by deer or if they look ill, they ask people to call the WDFW at 509-754-4624.

“We track when deer are sick,” she said.

People can’t help the deer. The situation is driven by drought, heat, and wildfires.

“We have to wait until the weather cools down. We need some rain,” Lehman said. “No matter what, we don’t advise people to feed deer.”

Author Bio

Bill Stevenson, Editor

Bill Stevenson is the editor of Franklin Connection and the Whitman County Gazette. He has served as a TV news director, managing editor for a daily newspaper and national magazines for motorcycles and ATVs. He built an online news service in Grant County and has more than 20 years of journalism experience in Central Washington, from Oroville to Tri-Cities.

Twitter: @BillSte71925953
Contact Bill Stevenson


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