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Pa. Game Commission notifies hunters about virus spreading among deer

The Pa. Game Commission is notifying hunters about two viruses affecting deer populations, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease and Bluetongue Virus.

LANCASTER, Pa. — Another round of deer hunting season is starting soon, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission is notifying hunters about two viruses affecting deer populations: Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and Bluetongue Virus.

The diseases were found in deer at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties back in September. 

The outbreak caused a scheduled archery hunt in Middle Creek to be canceled, as the Game Commission monitored the spread of the disease among the herd.

Dustin Stoner with the Pennsylvania Game Commission says the diseases are common among White-Tail deer and can cause a significant number of deaths during outbreaks.

“There were several deer discovered and samples were recovered from two deer. EHD was determined to be the cause of death," said Stoner. “The relative die-off in that area was somewhere around 50 deer.”

Stoner said the Pa. Game Commission expects upcoming rifle and muzzleloader seasons to be likely unaffected, as the colder weather kills off the insects that spread the disease. Any deer that survive the initial outbreak won’t likely make it through the winter.

“There just might be some minor signs that may look a little odd to hunters that harvest deer that survive that disease," said Stoner.

Stoner says hunters can protect themselves from any parasites or diseases found in deer by wearing protective gloves and goggles when harvesting deer.

“Keep yourself protected if you harvest an animal that looks sickly, or doesn’t look right, or smells different," said Stoner.

Any hunters that have concerns while harvesting deer can contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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