BETTENDORF, Iowa – Shotgun season is beginning, and white-tail deer are a concern this year after a disease called EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) is hitting the Illinois deer this year.
For Rudy Morgan, deer hunting season is his favorite time of the year, but he and other hunters are keeping an eye out for deer with EHD.
“EHD is a blood born disease that is transmitted to the deer from a tiny midge,” says Morgan, owner of R & R Sports Inc.
A midge is better known as a gnat or a “no-see-ums”.
“They call them ‘no-see-ums’ because you really don’t notice them,” explains Morgan.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says 432 white-tail deer have been affected in the state – including animals in Rock Island and Knox counties.
“When they do get the disease they normally head for water just before they die,” Morgan says.
Infected animals have symptoms like swelling by the face, excessive salvation or foam around the mouth, and a weak appearance.
“The state of Illinois does have test stations where they test for EHD. That’s something new they started this year,” mentions Morgan.
“The DNR are here every year. They are here during shotgun season and taking samples from every county around,” says Sandy Matthiesen, an owner of Matthiesen’s Deer and Custom Processing and Catering.
At her family-owned business, they are cutting up 30 to 40 deer a day from Iowa and Illinois, turning away anything that doesn’t look right.
“As a processor, we aren’t going to cut it up. We aren’t going to feed it to anyone,” says Matthiesen.
“If it doesn’t look healthy use your own judgment. Do you want to eat anything that’s sick?” emphasizes Matthiesen.
“People are overly aware of it, but it’s a natural thing it’s been around since the 50’s,” says Morgan.
When deer are infected with EHD they usually die within 5 to 10 days.
If anyone eats venison affected by EHD, they will not contract the disease.
Once the first hard frost hits (killing off the midges) deer are less likely to contract EHD.