Whitetail deer

A whitetail deer stands in a winter wonderland after a heavy snowfall last November. 

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An outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, has hit white-tailed deer populations hard in some areas of Montana this hunting season. The disease, which causes fever, organ failure and internal hemorrhaging, has contributed to massive die-offs of deer in the central and eastern portions of the state.

“This year we have heard reports of lots of dead deer in regions four, five, six and seven,” said Ray Mulé, a wildlife manager for Montana, Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Billings. “I would say we have seen die-offs in some areas that are at 50 percent or higher. When we start seeing those kinds of numbers, it is a severe outbreak.”

EHD is a virus transmitted to white-tailed deer by biting gnats. This year’s wet spring and late fall created excellent conditions for large numbers of the tiny insects to hatch and linger late into the season.


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