Deer population on Eastern Shore drops after suffering virus outbreak

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Maryland hunters take down over 86,000 deer during the 2017-2018 hunting season, about 1,000 more than the year before. However, on the lower and mid-shores, the total whitetail deer harvest decreased significantly, with hunters taking down 10% fewer deer. The only county posting an increased harvest was Wicomico with a slight uptick of 3%. However, hunters partially made up for their loss in the Sika deer harvest increased across the lower and mid shore counties, with hunters bagging 12% more sika than the year before.

Maryland Natural Resources officials say the declines in the whitetail population might be related to a viral outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease spread by midge flies, which can quickly spread through deer populations. It should be a short term problem, with the deer population rebounding quickly over the next few years. Officials say the virus is not contagious to humans and only harvested deer with huge open sores should not be consumed. Dogs, cats and sheep are not affected, but cattle can exhibit very mild symptoms.

More information on EHD can be found here.