More than 100 deer found dead west of Missoula

2013-09-18T09:45:00Z 2013-12-31T10:39:20Z More than 100 deer found dead west of Missoula

Wildlife officials are trying to find out why more than 100 whitetail deer have died along the Clark Fork River west of Missoula.

“The deer may show no outward symptoms of disease,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Vickie Edwards. “People are seeing healthy looking deer fall over dead.”

Fishing guides and landowners along the Clark Fork and fields near and downstream of Harpers Bridge started reporting the dead deer on Sunday. Dead deer have also been found in the Mill Creek area northeast of Frenchtown.

By Tuesday, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks personnel had confirmed 103 dead deer, with more appearing sick or dying. Biologists have collected lung, spleen and blood samples from affected deer to research the cause.

One possible cause is epizootic hemorrhagic disease, which has hammered deer populations in several eastern Montana regions. Biting midges or gnats transmit the disease, usually in late summer or early fall. The bugs typically die off soon after the first hard frost.

“Hemorrhagic disease viruses are not contagious from one animal to another and are not transmissible to humans,” said Jennifer Ramsey, FWP wildlife veterinarian in Bozeman. “Transmission is only known to occur through the bite of the gnat.”

The disease poses no threat to humans. Anyone who sees dead or sick deer in the Missoula area is asked to call FWP at 542-5515 with observations and locations.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(27) Comments

  1. rattlesnakeslim
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    rattlesnakeslim - September 20, 2013 10:34 am
    Yeah and the other side are blaming wolf poison, Smurfit Stone, toxic waste from Bonner, global warming, population imbalance caused by hunting etc... This is EHD! Hundreds, sometimes thousands of whitetails die of this every year on the Tongue, Powder and lower Yellowstone, but hysterical, ignorant Missoula green kooks can't resist invoking emotional and ridiculous conspiracy theories transforming this natural occurrence into a huge newsworthy tragedy. Get over it! The deer that survive will be just fine and make the herd stronger.
  2. Chewy
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    Chewy - September 19, 2013 9:35 am
    Too funny. Go look at the comments in the other story about these deer deaths. Just as I expected the anti-wolfers are spewing their nonsense.
  3. rattlesnakeslim
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    rattlesnakeslim - September 18, 2013 7:06 pm
    How highbrow... Wow, I concede.... You win...
  4. Chewy
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    Chewy - September 18, 2013 5:09 pm
    Haha, you're quite the drama queen. I forgot how sensitive you conservatives are. Please keep it up, I enjoy laughing at you.
  5. Fawzhuh
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    Fawzhuh - September 18, 2013 5:08 pm
    Is that the round church where the devil can't get you cornered?
  6. rattlesnakeslim
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    rattlesnakeslim - September 18, 2013 3:51 pm
    Now THAT is the most amusing thing I've read all day!! Thanx...
  7. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - September 18, 2013 2:38 pm
    What is a blogspot? Is that some new type of fungus? And why bring Keith Richards into it? Although he almost certainly spread some disease in his time, I doubt he's responsible for a local deer die off.
  8. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - September 18, 2013 2:13 pm
    Thanks for the laugh.
  9. rattlesnakeslim
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    rattlesnakeslim - September 18, 2013 1:55 pm
    Glad you're so sure of yourself.... the point being however, that there was absolutely no previous relevance that warranted political reference whatsoever. But, hey, thanks for taking the bait and proving my point!
  10. TheArmadillo
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    TheArmadillo - September 18, 2013 12:54 pm
    Many commenters leave no doubt at all, in anyone's mind, regarding their political persuasion. Including yourself.
  11. rattlesnakeslim
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    rattlesnakeslim - September 18, 2013 11:36 am
    And you purport to know the political persuasion of every commenter? Leave it to a liberal to interject snide political sarcasm into a discussion involving wildlife biology. I'm surprised YOU haven't blamed republicans and George Bush....
  12. Whiteguffablowoman
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    Whiteguffablowoman - September 18, 2013 11:28 am
    Being as this occurred by water, as the elk were by water in Texas, I would definitely check out JumpingJackFlash blogspot, reading just ONE month will have you in awe, I spend a couple hours there a few weeks back and think people really need to start taking all this guy is saying as truth. It IS happening folks, and the ocean isn't getting any cleaner! Google Jumping Jack Flash Blogspot, don't know if links are allowed here.
  13. JustEd
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    JustEd - September 18, 2013 11:24 am
    Sunset - pray to god, and if you like send your donations to the JustEd church and I'll pray to god for you.
  14. MTGuy
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    MTGuy - September 18, 2013 10:38 am
    Those darn aliens are wreaking havoc again.
  15. Chewy
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    Chewy - September 18, 2013 10:28 am
    I'm surprised nobody has blamed Obama or the wolves for this situation. The conservatives seem to be slacking here today. :^)
  16. MobyMike
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    MobyMike - September 18, 2013 9:58 am
    Thank You Mother Nature!!
  17. BBinMT
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    BBinMT - September 18, 2013 9:08 am
    I don't know much about EHD, but is sounds like there is something in the Clark Fork poisoning the deer. I live up Grant Creek and the deer up here seem to be flourishing. I guess we'll have to wait for the biologist's report.
  18. taxi-mom
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    taxi-mom - September 18, 2013 9:02 am
    READ the article Sunset .... Mother Nature is doing her thing here. " We" don't like it because we cant control it. The gnats will die off with the frost, deer who survive the bite will develop immunities , others will just die. Things like this happen in all animal species when populations are high and crowded ,,, there will be a die off and then they will slowly return to normal. Whitetails , famous for twins and even triplets , will rebound much quicker than the mule deer herds of eastern MT which were decimated by not only disease but also weather conditions . Just Ma Nature folks ... we have to roll with it.
  19. Salish
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    Salish - September 18, 2013 8:55 am
    Sunset, sweetie....learn to read. Then try to listen closer. Your fears are all unfounded.
  20. rattlesnakeslim
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    rattlesnakeslim - September 18, 2013 8:06 am
    This is almost certainly EHD - most prevalent in riparian dwelling whitetail deer. Occurs almost every year in eastern Montana, although rare this far west. Spread by biologic vectors (i.e. biting midges) and cannot be transmitted animal to animal. It is not contagious or a dangerous pathogen to humans. There is no vaccination or cure other than mother nature in the form of cooler temperatures - the hard frost expected in the next couple of days should put an end to it. Does not typically wipe out entire herds as many animals recover and develop an immunity. Everybody needs to chill and dispense with the hysteria and conspiracy theories - this is merely nature at work and, although upsetting to us, has been going on forever
  21. Don't Care
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    Don't Care - September 18, 2013 7:54 am
    The sky is falling!!!! Did you read the article?
  22. BJackson
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    BJackson - September 18, 2013 5:52 am
    This is what was suspected in the herd of elk that died a few weeks ago in New Mexico, it is not uncommon when you have warm summers like we have had this year.
  23. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - September 18, 2013 5:26 am
    Your link suggests that the likely cause for the elk deaths was EHD. So why do you say "do not buy it."
  24. Sunset
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    Sunset - September 18, 2013 5:06 am
    So what do we do to combat this, if it is spread by gnats. If not that then what could cause this devastation ? I see that some folks don't think that is what it is,,tell us what you think it is? We have to do something and quick!!!! What happens if hunter should take a deer that is infested with tis disease? Does it spread to other animals that pray on the carcasses? Is this. A pandemic in the wild life population?
  25. calvintatsey
    Report Abuse
    calvintatsey - September 17, 2013 9:39 pm
    Lakeguy406, do not buy it.

    Read this and if you cannot click the link, then copy & paste it into your search engine:
  26. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - September 17, 2013 9:33 pm
    Works just like getting Malaria from a mosquito bite. My buddies place has suffered about a 90% die off in adult deer and around 60% in fawn mortality. Coupled with low numbers and predators it is going to be some time before the deer bounce back.
  27. lakeguy406
    Report Abuse
    lakeguy406 - September 17, 2013 6:52 pm
    How could it just be a gnat in the "Missoula area"? I am not buying it.
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