A viral disease that has killed hundreds of deer in North Idaho has been confirmed in two dead mule deer near Boise.
In a news release, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said one animal, found in the department’s Southwest Region, tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease on Sept. 13. The virus, which is transmitted by insect bites, causes massive internal bleeding and is often fatal.
Five dead white-tailed deer were found near Garden Valley, and one of those animals tested positive for the disease a few days later.
Last month, Fish and Game officials said roughly 500 deer near Kamiah had died of hemorrhagic disease, and as many as an additional 500 had died of another strain of the disease affecting the department’s Clearwater and Panhandle regions.
Officials have pointed to this summer’s hot, dry weather as a possible cause in the disease spike. The weather likely led to an increase in gnat populations and a decrease in available water for deer, forcing the animals to congregate in insect-heavy areas.
Fish and Game said the southwest cases appear to be “localized and have not affected large numbers of deer.” The agency is asking hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to keep an eye out for sick deer and report any sightings to the southwest region office at (208) 465-8465 or online at its wildlife health page.
Officials said deer with hemorrhagic disease will likely appear lethargic or sluggish, may have a swollen head and neck, and have abnormal hoof growth or sloughing of hoof tissue.
They may also salivate excessively and be emaciated.
Deer hunting season is set to open in the southwest region on Oct. 10. Fish and Game warned hunters to avoid eating any animals that appear to have a “widespread infection.”
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease cannot be transmitted to humans.