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Hundreds of Michigan deer may be dying in disease outbreak


Update 2:00 p.m. Aug. 30

State wildlife officials say more deer have died across the state, reaching almost 2,000 casualties, reports the Associated Press.

More from the AP:

More than 1,700 white-tailed deer have been killed this summer by a disease affecting several counties in the southern half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Michigan Department of Natural Resources say the outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, has been worst in Ionia County, where more than 1,100 deer have died. DNR officials say 225 deer have been killed in Branch County, followed by 153 in Clinton County and 101 in Calhoun County.

12:20 p.m. Aug. 16

The AP reports that the disease has turned up in eight Michigan counties and killed hundreds of deer.

More from the AP:

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that deer infected with epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, have been found in Barry, Calhoun, Cass, Clinton, Eaton and Montcalm counties. Experts previously confirmed the disease had killed deer in Ionia and Branch counties. EHD outbreaks have happened in isolated sections of Michigan repeatedly since 2006. The number of cases is rising nationwide because of hot, dry weather. Wildlife biologist Tom Cooley says there are reports of more than 900 dead deer across the eight counties. But he said the die-off probably will be confined to local areas and won't affect the wider deer population.

2:30 p.m. August 5, 2012

State wildlife officials are trying to get a handle on the scope of a disease outbreak that's killing deer in large numbers in southern Michigan.

The Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD,  is spread by small biting flies that infect the deer.  The deer suffer severe internal bleeding before falling unconscious and dying just a few days after being infected.  The deer often die close to or in ponds or streams, which they seek out as the disease worsens.

Tom Cooley is a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources. He says the DNR is investigating the deaths of about 250 deer in Branch, Ionia and Clinton counties.

“The numbers right now are not that far out of where we have seen with die-offs in the past,” says Cooley, comparing the current outbreak with ones in 1955, 1974 and 2006, which also killed hundreds of Michigan deer.

“But the thing is this could very easily go on…til mid-October til you get a killing frost,” Cooley adds. 

Cooley says the drought gripping southern Michigan may be playing a role in the earlier than normal emergence of the disease.  

State officials say the disease is not a threat to humans.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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