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Deer Mortality Caused by EHD Allows Whitetail Hunters to Seek Refunds

Based on continuing reports of white-tailed deer mortality in western North Dakota caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease, the state Game and Fish Department is allowing hunters with whitetail licenses in units 3D1, 3D2, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F the option of turning those licenses in for refunds. Hunters who return their licenses will have their bonus points restored, if applicable, to the same number of points prior to the 2020 deer gun lottery.

Bruce Stillings, big game supervisor, said the decision is based on evidence of moderate to significant white-tailed deer losses in some areas that might affect hunting success in those locations.

“While we first received reports of isolated deer deaths in August, loss of deer to this disease appears to have extended into October and covers a large area of western North Dakota,” he added. “Fortunately, the current weather pattern is colder than average temperatures with below freezing conditions during the night which will likely end this year’s outbreak.”

EHD, a naturally occurring virus that is spread by a biting midge, is almost always fatal to infected white-tailed deer, while mule deer do not usually die from the disease. Hunters do not have to worry about handling or consuming meat from infected deer because the virus that causes EHD is not known to cause disease in humans. In addition, the first hard freeze typically kills the midge that carries and transfers the EHD virus, which will slow or halt the spread of the disease.

Before deciding to turn in a license, Stillings urges whitetail license holders to make local contacts to find out the extent of mortality in their hunting area. Large portions of affected units had no reports of whitetail deaths.

“The whitetail population has not been decimated and in many areas a good harvest is still needed,” he said, adding that more than 9,000 white-tailed deer license holders are eligible for license refunds.

The last time Game and Fish made license refunds an option for hunters because of an EHD outbreak was in 2011.

White-tailed deer license holders who want a refund must mail their tag, along with a note requesting a refund due to EHD, to the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office no later than Nov. 5. Envelopes postmarked Nov. 5 will be accepted.