The not-so-familiar but definitely haunting sounds of our local vultures have returned to our Hudson Valley mornings. Today as I made my way to the coffee pot I could hear the call of a vulture coming from the woods behind the house. The crows were chiming in as well. Suddenly it brought back the memories of late last summer when we lost a lot of local deer.

It is so weird how something can take you right back in time. As soon as I heard the vultures today I said to my husband, "Oh No, I think the deer disease is back". Then late today I read a press release confirming what I thought. For almost two weeks last summer our neighborhood was nothing but vultures and crows then lots of fouls smells due to the deer dying from Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD).

It is Official: Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is in the Hudson Valley.

This afternoon the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) sent a press release confirming my observation, there are now deer that have reportedly died from EHD in Esopus, Ulster County. They also disclosed that they are investigating reports from Dutchess and Westchester Counties as well.

What is Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease?

According to the NYS DEC it is a sometimes fatal disease that affects white-tail deer. It is transmitted by a small bug. It does not spread deer to deer. The bugs that transmits the disease are referred to as no-see-ums or midgets. The NYS DEC reports that this disease will most likely kill a deer within 36 hours of it being effected

Can Humans Get Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease?

Apparently, humans can not get EHD from deer or midgets, the bugs know to transmit the disease. However, it is never a good idea to approach a dead deer you believe has passed from EHD. Other diseases can be passed along if you come in contact with a dead animal. Leave the investigation to the NYS DEC.

What does a Deer with Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Look Like?

If you see a deer you believe is infected with EHD there really isn't much you can do to help it. It might appear to be lame. The NYS DEC also says its symptoms included fever, hemorrhage in muscles and organs plus the head, neck, tongue and lips of the deer may swell. The dead deer are often found around water sources.

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 10-2-2020
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 10-2-2020

What Do You Do If You find a Dead Deer?

The dead deer will not infect other animals which is a good thing, however, a large deer can take a while to decompose. The first things you may notice before discovering the deer are the crows and vultures. You may even have a coyote or two. You will also often get the unpleasant smell if the deer is nearby. If you suspect you have located a deer dead from EHD contact the NYS DEC at the nearest regional office or contact the DEC Police.

Why Contact the NYS DEC?

The NYS DEC asks that you contact them in order for them to track Hudson Valley cases. They may not come out to the actual site but they will be using your info to help track the spread. In the press released issued today they did say that the outbreaks of EHD in our area have not had any long-term effects on the deer population but they also say that in some small areas the "deer mortality can be intense".

Is there a cure for EHD?

The answer to that is, No. In the southern states where there are annual outbreaks of EHD, some deer have become immune according to the NYS DEC. Here in the Hudson Valley our deer have not developed immunity. So, unfortunately, they are more likely to die from it.

When can we expect it to end?

Now that the outbreak is confirmed in the Hudson Valley our local deer population will be exposed to EHD for the rest of summer and into the fall. It takes a hard frost to kill the bugs that cause EHD so until then we can expect deer to contract the disease.

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