Deer Die-Off in Central Oregon
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) biologists received lab results today confirming that a recent die-off of at least 30 mule deer in the Crooked River Ranch area is due to the viral infection, Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD). The area is north of Redmond, near Terrebonne.

"The affected deer were found within a 15-mile radius of Crooked River Ranch this past week," said Steven George, Deschutes District wildlife biologist. "Although the virus is not well understood, we do know that it is highly contagious among deer and likely spreads in areas of high deer concentration, particularly where people feed and water deer. For that reason, it's important not to feed or water deer to reduce the chance of transmitting the virus to uninfected deer," added George.

After investigating reports of dead deer, ODFW biologists brought carcasses to Dr. Little Liedblad of Broken Top Veterinary Clinic. Liedblad worked with Oregon State University School of Veterinary Medicine to confirm AHD is causing the deaths. AHD is one of three hemorrhagic diseases that affect deer and all have similar symptoms that can include: rapid or open mouth breathing; foaming or drooling at the mouth; coughing, ulcers or sores in the mouth; diarrhea (possibly bloody); weakness; and emaciation.

Biologists request that observations of deer with any of these symptoms be reported to the Bend ODFW office at (541) 388-6363. There is no evidence that humans, domestic pets or livestock can acquire the disease, which mainly affects mule, and black-tailed and white-tailed deer. Clinical tests conducted in California indicated transmission of AHD is by direct contact between deer and could possibly be airborne, infecting nearby deer. The disease can have as short as a three-day incubation time, and deer can die in two to five days after exposure. The virus doesn't always kill the deer, but delayed death could result because they are weakened and more susceptible to other infections.

A large percentage of deer that get the virus will die. Different adenovirus strains are common among mammals. Wildlife biologists will closely monitor the disease outbreak and will also require changes to rehabilitation and release of deer fawns.

"For many years, ODFW, in cooperation with volunteers, has rehabilitated orphaned deer fawns," said George. "We will not be able to take in orphaned fawns and rehabilitate them for future release as long as this disease outbreak is occurring. This is an unfortunate situation, but we don't want to risk spreading this disease any further," he said.

AHD was first confirmed in Oregon in 1999 in Harney County and is known to be present in Benton, Linn, Lane, Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties. The disease first appeared in California in 1993 where an AHD outbreak killed several thousand deer in 17 counties and also included pronghorns. Although large-scale outbreaks can occur, localized sporadic cases are more common. Information on AHD is available on the ODFW website at under the Main Wildlife Page.

| WH Home | Contact Western | WH Archive |

Copyright © 2002 J & D Outdoor Communications. All rights reserved.