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Deadly disease leads to change in fall hunting season in Idaho

Courtesy Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Idaho game officials estimate as many as 10,000 white-tailed deer were killed last fall by epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

The disease was spread by insects during the dry fall in the Clearwater region.

Idaho hunters will have fewer opportunities to go after white-tailed deer in the state’s Clearwater region next fall.

Rick Ward from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the population in that area was hit last year by an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease. It’s spread by small flies that breed in stagnant water and carry diseases.

“EHD can kill a deer within two or three days, sometimes even less, a number of hours," he said. "We estimate between 6,000 and 10,000 white-tailed deer died as a result of EHD. What’s important to note is EHD had its effect. One we got a frost that killed the midges, EHD receded back into the background.”

The Fish and Game Commission recently announced that, because of the reduced white-tailed deer population, it will sell 1,500 fewer tags for the Clearwater region for next fall's hunt.

Ward says other animals are also susceptible to the disease, including mule deer and elk. But they weren’t hit as hard this time, in part because they water in higher elevations where the insects were less likely to breed.

He says outbreaks are most likely to happen during times of drought, when there are fewer water supplies available for animals.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.