BTV kills deer population

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This year’s deer populations are way down from the past. This is mainly because of blue tongue disease. Blue tongue disease is a contagious, insect-born, viral disease. It is spread by the midge fly. The midge fly is smaller than most flies and is even smaller than most mosquitoes. After deer is infected with blue tongue it normally has 1-5 days to live. The deer normally develop a blue colored tongue and will sometime begin to grow warts on their faces. BTV normally kills them because it does not allow them to eat or do many other normal everyday activities.

midge fly

Midge fly.

I have not been hunting for too long so I decided to ask some more experienced hunters how they feel this deer season compares to others they have hunted?”

Jack Harrison, a sophomore at Elder told me he thought the deer were very scarce while his dad, Paul Harrison said, “In about the 20 years that I have hunted it’s the worst I’ve seen it as far as Indiana.” He also added that it has been down for Ohio as well. Blue tongue has hit the Northern areas of Ohio and Indiana the hardest and is just starting to trickle down into South-East Indiana and South-West Ohio.

I asked Jack Harrison how he feels blue tongue disease has affected the deer population. He again told me that the deer have been a lot more scarce. Jack also said, “I’ve been hunting plenty of times this year and I’ve hardly seen any.”

He added that he has seen more in Ohio than Indiana and is hoping BTV stays away from the deer here. As a hunter I can say that I have not seen many deer at all this year, but because I have not been hunting for as long as the Harrisons I cannot say how much worse this year is from years prior.

Jack went on to say that out in rural areas where it is harder for a buck to find a doe so it’s harder for them to reproduce. Where as in urban areas there is less area for them to be so they’ll be closer together to reproduce. He is probably right, but in urban areas because there is less area for them to roam it could also be easier for blue tongue to spread.

I asked the Harrisons what they feel needs to be done to stop the spread of blue tongue disease. Paul Harrison jokingly told me that “We need to tell the deer to stop kissing.”

Pullquote Photo

We need to tell the deer to stop kissing. ”

— Paul Harrison

This would not work because of two things: this is not a deer STD so it does not spread by kissing and deer do not normally go around kissing each other that much anyway. Later Paul seriously added, ”They could try to feed something to the deer to make them more resistant.” Jack differed by saying that he didn’t know if there really is anything they can do about it.

“I mean, I guess they could try to round up all the ones that have it and kill them, but I don’t know how they would do that,” said Jack.

There is no real way to stop the spread of blue tongue because the flies are so small and the disease kills the deer so quickly. I just hope we can find a way to spread the spread as soon as possible. We need a healthy deer population to have a properly running ecosystem and the midge flies definitely are not helping the population.

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