BY MIKE HORACE
A rare, often fatal disease is affecting deer populations in Ionia and Branch counties.
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease used to be fairly uncommon, said Tom Cooley with the Department of Natural Resources...
"It used to be a relatively rare disease. We had it in 1955 and 1974, and then we didn't see it until 2006. But since 2006, we've had it every year except for one."
Cooley said the disease only affects deer, and poses no threat to humans. Normally, we wouldn't see it at this time of year, but this summer has been abnormally warm...
"We have definitely moved up what normally occurs in late August or early September to July and early August."
EHD will cause deer to develop a fever and internal bleeding, said Cooley...
"What these animals often times will do is they search out areas where they can cool off, which they go to water. So when we hear about deer dying in or near water, this is the disease that immediately springs to mind."
Cooley said the disease should disappear by the first frost of the season.
It may cause some temporary reductions in the deer herd over the next few years, but Cooley expects populations to quickly recover.