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Posted on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

Deer season: DNR restricts permits, expects killer virus EHD to hamper hunt in southern Michigan

By John Counts


License sales for firearm deer season were up 2 percent this year, according to the DNR.

Courtesy of the DNR

Hunters taking to the woods in southern Michigan for firearm deer season may find fewer deer as a result of a disease that is killing off the herd, officials with the Department of Natural Resources said.

Russ Mason, wildlife chief for the DNR, said hunters are being asked to report any deer who have died due to epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), a virus passed via a midge or fly. Last year, cases were only reported in a few counties. This year, however, cases were reported in 30 counties.

Mason said last year's mild winter and excessively hot and dry summer has led to an increase in the virus, especially in southern Michigan. The DNR has even changed restrictions this deer season due to the disease. On private land in part of southern Michigan, a hunter is only permitted to have five antlerless licenses instead of the usual 10; on public land a hunter will be permitted two of the same license as opposed to the usual four.

"We are asking hunters to exercise restraint where EHD has had a serious effect," said Mason.

The deer die-offs are not being reported in any one concentrated area.

"It's in pockets," Mason said, adding that in some areas the herd has been thinned by 50 percent, while a nearby area won't have any deaths.

Jackson and western Washtenaw County have been especially hard hit, officials said. Lynn Mida discovered two deer that had died from EHD on his six-acres in Lyndon Township.

In late September, Mida recalled finding a doe and a buck on his property that had perished due to EHD. He said the deer population in Jackson County has been especially devastated.

"The deer numbers are down from where they used to be," he said.

Still, Mida and his 22-year-old son, Erik, were planning on being out on the property at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning for the opener.

"We'll sit down and see what we see," he said.

Mida's brother, Bill, who is the president of the Washtenaw Sportsman's Club, is at a Cheboygan County deer camp in northern Michigan where, due to the same weather conditions that have increased cases of EHD in the southern counties, deer populations are up.

"They're moving pretty good up here," Bill Mida said Wednesday night, adding that he and the family members he's with saw around 10 to 12 deer that evening.

The Upper Peninsula, which had seen decreased numbers in recent years, is expected to produce more bucks this year.

"Their season is looking sunny," Mason said.

Not so for southern Michigan.

"Some guys will have a terrible season because they're in an EHD hot spot," Mason said.

The DNR has an online reporting system for tallying up the dead deer and keeping track of where they were found.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

Yes it is spotty - one Lakota Reservation in S.D. that I know of has cancelled deer season on their land due to EHD while another (close by) has slightly reduced their bag limits. So far, the impact has not been very severe on hunters (hunting licenses, tourisms, etc) from what I've been able to glean. Hunt / No Hunt decisions are also "demographic" - aging baby boomers are now in their 60s-70s, for example. Those who already have club land or personal property in deer hunting territory will go whether or not the odds are good for harvesting a deer in specific areas. We basically won't see the whole picture until the post-season studies are done. Adding: EHD has a similar profile to West Nile Virus in that wild life fatalities are spreading roughly according to increased temperature averages - there are still very few reports of EHD appearing in colder regions like Canada. WNV was first reported in New York in 1999, but EHD was first reported in 1955 in New Jersey. Both disease vectors are through our good friends in the insect kingdom (which in turn are affected by climate). Whatever: happy hunting guys, wish I was with you out there this year.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

My two cents...The deer population where I hunt has been largely unaffected by EHD. The area I'm in, Jackson Rd. / Parker / Baker Rd / Liberty area, has it's typical...way to many deer. I have many "game cams" up, revealing the multitude of bucks and doe's this year. Just north of Dexter, there are even more deer...big bucks too! Yesterday, I helped a friend locate a 14 point monster he harvested earlier in the not seeing any problems here in Washtenaw county.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

duck season! (rips down the poster) wabbit season! (rips down the poster) duck season! (rips down the poster) wabbit season! (rips down the poster) duck season! (rips down the poster to reveal "elmer season" poster) elmer fudd smiles goofily....


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Wish they had a Cabela's for beef hunters!


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

How are you supposed to know if EHD killed them?I seen one next to the pond on the corner of Grass and Waterworks Rd.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

The simple answer is that the average individual can't tell if EHD was involved in a deer's death. Detecting EHD is done through laboratory blood tests. One possibly helpful hint: the EHD virus is closely related to the virus which causes "blue tongue disease" in deer.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:39 a.m.

I have at least 20 of them in my backyard near the A2 airport. Come on over. Turkeys over here, too.

Julia Herbst

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:20 a.m.

please email me if serious,

Julia Herbst

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.

Seriously dave? Its my first hunting season, Ive been having a super hard time finding somewhere to hunt. Set a stand up in Dexter on state land, and having bad luck. I live in Ypsi. Trying to find something closer to home, where I can go out in the morning before work. Really wanting to get my first deer before the end of the season this year. If you're seriously open to letting someone come hunt your property, please let me know. Ill gladly share the meat, and be respectful. Let me know.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

We got 2 bucks and a doe this a.m. and we are in Manchester. Although we had a good turn out this a.m. we did find several dead deer along the shore of the Raisin River the first weekend in October.

John Counts

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

I'm glad to hear there's a least one successful hunter. How about anyone else?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

The people who hunt in our woods got 2 in a short time this morning. There is no shortage of deer out north of Chelsea!!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

So far so good around here.My buddy has gotten 3 so far.Infact I'm to help him butcher 2 tomorrow.Got them in Ypsi Twp


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

tdw, you've got me drooling all down my shirtfront and my eyes are glazing over......mmmmmmm.venison're lucky I don't know where you live....... warm regards, m-a-d-y


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

Yea mandy......I'll sit down for a few hours and trim out the shoulders and make some darn good jerky.The first one was better than any beef out there


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

YUMMY! venison. best chili ever!!!!