Hunters in western NC, east TN may see fewer deer

(AP/WJHL) – The agency that oversees hunting practices in North Carolina says hunters might see fewer deer this season.

And not too far away, the disease is having a similar impact in East Tennessee.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission mountain biologist Justin McVey tells the Asheville Citizen-Times that there have been 64 cases of hemorrhagic disease confirmed among deer in western North Carolina this year. McVey says the disease is common in the region and resurfaces around every five years, after which the deer population rebounds within two to three years.

He says the state’s deer population is healthy overall. The disease has no known effect on humans and can’t be contracted by domestic pets.

McVey also says a decent mast crop this year means deer have likely found good stores of acorns, and will thus be less visible.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency says they are receiving reports of dead deer in scattered areas of the state. It says the timing and nature of the reports are all “indicative of hemorrhagic disease”.

The TWRA says, so far, reports are coming from East Tennesse, “and based on the volume of reports it appears to be above average in severity.

“So far the intensity of the outbreak seems to be localized,” said Roger Applegate, Wildlife Health Program Leader for TWRA. “We don’t anticipate this outbreak to rival that of 2007, but it is still early and we’re actively monitoring the situation.”

According to the TWRA, hemorrhagic disease peaks around mid-September and usually ends mid-October  – at the start of cold weather.

The agency says the virus is transmitted to deer from biting midges or “no-seeums”  — not from deer to deer contact.

The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, GA says the outbreak amongst deer is part of a larger multi-state outbreak involving several nearby states.

Wildlife experts say the virus causes fever, respiratory distress, and swelling of the neck or tongue. 

Archery season for deer hunting is now open in North Carolina.Deer archery season will open in Tennesee on September 23. For more about deer hunting in Tennessee, click here. 

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