Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that lab results received Monday show that white-tailed deer deaths, first reported in the Missoula Valley in mid-September, can be attributed to epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD).
Nearly 400 dead deer have been reported since the September outbreak began, and FWP sent in samples from several dozen deer for testing.
Most deer deaths were concentrated in the Clark Fork River Valley west of Missoula from Harper’s Bridge to approximately 10 miles downstream and in the Mill Creek area northeast of Frenchtown.
Vickie Edwards, FWP wildlife biologist in Missoula, said that FWP also received reports of several dead whitetails in outlying areas. Samples from these dead deer were also sent to the lab for testing, but results are not yet in.
“The test results we got back this week are from the earliest samples we collected in the core area of the outbreak west of Missoula,” said Edwards. “We’re still waiting on lab results from other deer in outlying areas to confirm that all deaths are a result of EHD.”
EHD is a naturally occurring virus spread by tiny biting midges—it is not spread from deer to deer. The virus causes hemorrhaging that can kill the infected animal within a day or two after approximately a six day incubation period from the time of being bitten. Dead animals frequently are found near water, where they go to alleviate a high fever caused by the disease.