MADISON (WKOW) -- As Wisconsin's hunting season gets underway, a disease may be getting to some deer before any bullets or arrows.
"Right now, we're dealing with about 185 deer or so that we've found in a variety of different counties," says Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Regional Wildlife Program Supervisor Eric Lobner.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) has been confirmed in six counties: Columbia, Rock, Sauk, Dane, Waukesha and Jefferson. Lobner says this is the second time Wisconsin has documented an outbreak. The first was in 2002, when 14 deer died in Iowa County. The disease is carried by small flies called midges and is much more common in the Southern United States.
"Certainly this has been a prime year for the spread of this disease," Lobner says. Unusally hot and dry conditions have pushed both the midges and deer together at water sources.
Lobner doesn't believe the deer kills will have a widespread impact for hunters or the environment but the DNR is closely tracking the disease to measure any impact on the deer population.
Wildlife officials say there is no risk to people or pets from deer that have died of EHD and that the venison is safe to eat.
To report a sick deer observation please call the DNR call center toll free at 1-888-WDNR- INFo (1-888-936-7463), email DNRInfo@Wisconsin.gov, or use the chat feature on the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov/contact.
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