Thursday, September 28, 2006

OREGON NEWS: Lots of Dead Deer, Blue Tongue Virus Suspsected

The Associated Press. LA GRANDE, Ore. (AP) — A virus outbreak is being blamed for an unusually large number of deer found dead in south La Grande.

Ten white-tailed deer and three mule deer have been found dead in the past month, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Blue tongue, a virus that periodically hits deer populations and poses no threat to humans, is the likely culprit, said Jim Cadwell, an ODFW biologist. The disease typically strikes between late August through October and primarily hits whitetails. The outbreaks, which occur during dry years, are related to the abundance of tiny biting flies known as midges.

"When the weather cools the insect is suppressed," Cadwell said. "The cause of the disease is shot down." The ODFW was finding about two dead deer a day in south La Grande until the weather cooled a week ago. Then another dead deer was spotted Monday.

Samples taken from the deer were sent to Oregon State University to be tested. Samples from other deer were not submitted because they were found well after their deaths. Cadwell said biologists need to reach a deer within hours after its death for it to be tested for the virus, which kills by causing internal bleeding.

Dead deer have also been reported at Ladd Marsh this month. Dave Larson, manager of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, said that a number of people reported seeing dead deer there during a youth pheasant hunt Sept. 9-10.

No comments: