No tall tale: EHD is a threat to deer, other hooved animals

September 16, 2017

One should never base his or her credibility on rumor. There is more than a bit of truth in that statement or facts are fact and innuendo is just a big maybe.

I think I will break this rule and mention a rumor that could be the truth. I am hearing of some hemorrhagic disease in northern Washington County. While EHD is fatal to deer and other hooved animals, a cold frost will end the problem as the frost does its job on the midges that transport the disease.

If the reader remembers, we had a big outbreak of EHD about 8 years ago and dead deer could be found all across southern Washington County. The actual name of this disease is Epizootic Hemorrhagic Deer Disease and is carried from an infected animal to an unaffected one by a tiny midge.

Almost 100 percent fatal, EHD gets its name because the animal bleeds internally and quickly dies. Most dead animals will be found around water, not because the water causes the disease, but because of heat and thirst.

There is a disease that was common among sheep called Blue Tongue that is closely related to EHD. While any disease among our wildlife is not good, we can be thankful it is EHD instead of this far more dangerous wasting disease. If it is the EHD epidemic, it will end with the cold weather.

The disease to worry about is the wasting disease that is fatal and impossible to control. That virus seems impervious to anything man has thrown at it, including fire. But one must remember as I said in the beginning, the presence of EHD is a rumor.

• While on the subject of diseases, what about the one that plagues hunters and other outdoors people? While not fatal, one can pay a very heavy price down the road if it continues to grow.

What I am talking about is the apathy evident in today’s hunting organizations and their members. When an issue appears that affects hunting in a good or bad way, the non-hunters will contact the local media and let their thoughts be known. Conversely, the outdoorsmen or women sit with their fingers under them and curse the media who they do not contact.

I know the gun lobby, led by the NRA, is strong and the archers are a group that carries a lot of weight. But take the average club member and you find a quiet bunch afraid to voice their opinions. I guess the plan is to let the opposition talk themselves to a point where they have a sore throat. Maybe they think no one reads the letters I write in protest; therefore, I don’t write them. Or perhaps it is I am not eloquent enough to write a letter.

In Washington County, there are roughly 16 club members in the Washington County Sportsmen League. At the once-a-month meeting, one will find anywhere from 4 to 6 members present.

Doesn’t anyone really care if we have a goose season or are relegated to shooting water filled balloons and pretend they are real geese? Doesn’t anyone really care that the game lands that the hunter pays for could easily be threatened by land grabbers in state government?

You have to have a passion to hunt, then defend it with words and actions. Attend meetings or vote a representative in who will. It works like the government: the club representative goes to the federation and the federation goes to those who are running the show. What is needed is more people who care and will speak up.

It is the joining of the two agencies that protect our wildlife that can create a threat to our game lands. Probably not me, but your children and grandchildren might find a quick food place on the game lands, or they might not be allowed to hunt because of a horse show. The Game Commission had the foresight to use the hunters’ money purchasing these public hunting spots for hunters. Let’s keep them where they belong and for the use the purchaser intended.

George Block writes a weekly Outdoors column.

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