EHD Concerns Hang Over Firearm Hunting Opener

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Hunters are heading to the woods, prepping for the Thursday opening of firearm season, but some are wondering if the EHD virus will change the hunt.

According to the DNR, the deer-killing virus has killed 30,000-50,000 animals in the state this year.

"We had this EHD in 30 counties in Michigan this year, it was also in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, as far west as Utah," Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason, with the DNR explained.

Hunter Garret Wilkinson looks forward to the season every year. It's a family tradition, his father, brother and grandfather never miss, but like many they're wondering just what they'll see out there.

EHD has prompted an emergency order from the DNR limiting licenses in the hardest hit areas. Mason says Ionia County is ground zero.

"Hunters should show restraint in those areas, if they think numbers are low don't shoot anything that comes in, wait for the deer you want," he said.

Still, Mason does not expect EHD to impact the overall population.

"We don't have real concerns and frankly I'm not sure hunters do either," he added.

Wilkinson agrees, he's hopefully optimistic about the season.

"On our way here we saw quite a few deer," Wilkinson said. "I have my doubts, but I'm thinking it'll still be a good year."

The DNR says EHD outbreaks have slowed, if not stopped completely with the cooler weather. Frost kills the biting fly that is behind the spread of the disease.

EHD usually kills infected deer within 48-72 hours. It does not affect humans.

If hunters see deer they believe may have EHD, the DNR is taking reports until January.

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