'Bluetongue' Virus Kills 1,000 Deer in Idaho 

click to enlarge IDAHO FISH AND GAME
  • Idaho Fish and Game

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game confirmed Tuesday that up to 1,000 whitetail deer have died from an outbreak of so-called "bluetongue," a virus transmitted by gnats. Fish and Game officials said it's difficult to get an exact count of diseased or dead animals, but the outbreak "is not expected to significantly reduce whitetail populations, or affect hunting season," which opens in Idaho this Thursday, Oct. 9.

Officials said the bluetongue is similar to Epizootic Hemmorragic Disease, aka EHD, and hit whitetail  herds in the areas of Grangeville, Whitebird, Harpster, Juliaetta, Troy and Deary, Idaho. Outbreaks are more severe during hot, dry summers because the deer congregate near waters that are prime breeding ground for gnats.

Fish and Game said Idaho hunters should not be harvesting obviously sick deer, but added that the virus cannot infect humans. The bluetongue outbreak is not limited to Idaho. Deer with bluetongue have also been confirmed in eastern Washington and northeast Oregon.

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