New Castle News

Sports

September 20, 2012

State probing deer deaths

NEW CASTLE — Pennsylvania Game Commission officers are investigating the deaths of nearly a dozen white-tailed deer found in Crawford County.

Agency employees on the Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area in North Shenango Township discovered the deer, which are suspected to have died of epizootic hemorrhagic disease.

Although there have been no reports of the disease in Lawrence County, cases have been confirmed in Beaver and Westmoreland counties and are suspected in Allegheny and Cambria counties.

Game commission biologists are attempting to collect samples for testing at the University of Georgia, which has confirmed deer mortalities from four different strains of the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus in 15 states this year.

The commission will continue to gather samples from other dead deer being found in Pennsylvania.

Samples must be collected within 24 hours of the animal’s death to be viable. Once the results are available, which takes around two weeks, the commission will release the findings to the public.

“There are no management actions or practices to prevent or limit mortality caused by EHD,” noted Dr. Walter Cottrell, game commission wildlife veterinarian. “Fortunately, EHD should be curtailed with the first hard frost, which will kill the midges that are spreading the disease.”

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease is seasonal and the affected local deer herd can rebound quickly. It is one of the most common diseases among white-tailed deer in the United States and is contracted by the bite of insects called midges or “no-see-ums.”

The epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus usually kills the animal within five to 10 days and is not spread directly from deer to deer. While it is not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms of the disease may not be suitable for consumption.

Keith Harbaugh, the game commission’s Northwest Region director, is urging residents to report sightings of sickly-looking deer, particularly those found near water, by calling the office at (814) 432-3188.

Information on epizootic hemorrhagic disease can be found on the game commission’s website — www.pgc.state.pa.us — by clicking on the “EHD Info” icon in the center of the home page.

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