Posted: Sep 19, 2013 8:52 AM by Brenda Bassett - MTN News
Updated: Sep 19, 2013 9:26 AM
MISSOULA - The mystery of what has killed more than 100 white-tailed deer west of Missoula hasn't been solved yet, but clues point strongly to a disease that has never been scene before on this side of the Continental Divide.
The calls started coming about 10 days ago from local fishing guides and landowners who reported seeing numerous dead deer in and along the Clark Fork River, just west of Missoula stretching to Frenchtown.
More than 100 white-tailed deer have been found dead as of Tuesday, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are trying to determine what caused the animals to die.
"We've started responding to these information reports and going out in the field to take samples and see what's behind it," FWP Information Officer Vivaca Crowser explained.
Although FWP hasn't confirmed what's killing all of the deer, they think that based on the symptoms they may know the culprit.
"We're waiting for lab results to confirm it, but signs are pointing towards EHD," Crowser said.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is transmitted by a biting midge, or gnat, and generally strikes in late summer and early fall - during warmer and moist conditions.
"If EHD is confirmed, this would be the first time it was reported in Montana on this side of the Continental Divide," Crowser told us.
She adds that while humans can not be harmed by EHD, other wildlife can be effected by the disease.
"Other wildlife species can be affected, like mule deer, antelope, and elk, but white tail are generally most at risk, said Crowser.
Biologists are working around the clock to collect lung, spleen and blood samples from a number the dead deer, but until the results come back there's no way to confirm the case.
FWP officials add that hunters shouldn't be concerned about EHD, because the deer meat is safe to eat. Results of the testing should be back within a week.
(photo courtesy FWP)