Virus proving deadly among deer herd

Ruth and I attended the September Mountaineer Chapter Izaak Walton League dinner/meeting this past Tuesday. I was able to ask a few sportsmen and women if they have been out squirrel hunting yet. They all gave me just about the same answer: “It’s just too hot.”

These unseasonably warm temperatures are discouraging. However, this weekend the temperature is supposed to cool down. A friend and I are talking about going squirrel hunting together this weekend.

Officials for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources have reported that deer have been found in eight counties that have died from a hemorrhagic disease that causes extensive bleeding. This year, dead deer have been found in Boone, Hancock, Lincoln, Marshall, Ohio, Tucker and Wayne counties. These deer have died from Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (EHDV).

This disease has already been confirmed in the deer herds at Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. This virus is not contagious to humans, and it is not related to the chronic wasting disease that has only been detected in Hampshire and Hardy counties.

This disease should disappear with the first frost. The infectious agents that carry the disease are killed by cold temperatures.

Outbreaks of EHDV do not occur in the deer herds every year.

The last large outbreaks that occurred in the state were in 1996, 2002, 2007 and 2012. Hunters and landowners need to be fully aware of this and report any dead or sick deer they see to the nearest DNR office as soon as possible.

•••

Hunters who are getting ready for the various autumn hunting seasons should consult the 2017 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook publications at www.wvdnr.gov. In 2017, all species of mast combined is 23 percent above the long-term average.

The statewide hickory mast is up a whopping 285 percent over last year. Naturally, this will be considered a bumper crop. In addition to the hickory, all hard mast species are well above the long-term average.

Soft mast production is also much higher than in 2016 with the apple production leading the way. Apples will be the favorite for black bear and white-tailed deer.

The state mast survey is calculated by species for the ecological regions and elevations (high and low). The current year’s index is compared to the previous year’s index. It is also compared to a long-term average index established when the annual survey was started in 1971. I would like to give a more comprehensive report about the 2017 mast survey sometime in a future column.

•••

The DNR has updated the online interactive map that provides all sorts of information about hunting and fishing. This public service is also great for bikers, backpackers, bird watchers, boaters and campers.

Instructions for using this online map can be found at mapwv.gov/huntfish/ where all outdoor enthusiasts can explore information about hunting and fishing. This public service is also great for bikers, back-packers, bird watchers, boaters and campers as well.

On the hunting map hunters can find the various locations for licensing agents, check-in stations, public shooting ranges, wildlife management areas and hiking trails.

A search option permits the user to gather information on a specific county, wildlife management area, national or state forest.

All West Virginia hunters should try to make good use of this WVDNR public service.

COMMENTS