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Midges blown in from hurricanes may be adding to dead deer count

Sep 20, 2021 4:30 am

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports in the Times Union that the remnants of two hurricanes that blew through the Hudson Valley recently may be the cause of some of the dead deer lying next to local ponds and lakes. Deer with epizootic hemorrhagic disease have been found dead recently in Greene, Columbia, Ulster, and Dutchess counties, and on Long Island, and there are suspected cases in Albany, Rensselaer, Orange, Sullivan, Rockland, Putnam, and Westchester counties. Bites from midges cause fever and hemorrhaging in deer, which can appear lame or dehydrated and often seek out water sources before dying within 36 hours of infection. DEC Game Management Section Head Mike Schiavone says the hurricanes pushed many biting midges into the Northeast. "That may be what happened again this year," he said. "At this point we're not sure.” The local deer, it seems, have not reached herd immunity. "Deer in the South have developed resistance to the virus, so they don't get too sick ... [in New York] there's no real resistance, so we see larger mortality events," he said. “This may change over time if we see annual outbreaks in New York." In September and October 2020, 1,500 deer were killed by the virus in the lower Hudson Valley. The first frost should kill off most of the midges before the Nov. 20 first day of hunting season. Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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