According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in a press release from July 13, 2021, Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease has been found in several Northern California deer herds. In the press release officials state the disease has been traced to several northern California counties although it failed to mention which ones.
Unfortunately this is not the first time this disease has plagued California. The disease, adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD), was first discovered in black tail deer in California in 1993. Although most notable in the black deer populations, mule deer, elk, moose and even caribou could be affected (ODFW).
AHD has a high mortality rate among fawns and young deer. The disease causes ulcers and abscesses in the mouth and throat, as well as rapid or open mouth breathing, foaming or drooling at the mouth, diarrhea (possibly bloody), weakness.
California black tail numbers in Northern California are already thin in some areas including zones D3-D5. It’s still unclear if the outbreak is in or near these zones but if found could further hurt populations.
Officials did ask for the public’s help in curbing the outbreak. The department asks that humans not hand feed or leave food for deer to eat. Having deer congregate in groups may further spread the disease.
What Does This Mean for Deer Hunting Season in California?
If a major outbreak happens it’s not inconceivable to think the California department of Fish and Wildlife could close the hunting season in order to save populations. It’s worth noting that California officials did not mention anything about significant loss of deer population at this time.
Another possibility is the reduction in tags to allow hurds to regain health. Reducing the number of deer taken will mean less stress on the populations.
WIth deer hunting season coming just around the corner, we will keep a close eye on the events as they unfold.
You can read California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s full press release here.
References and Resources
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) – article: Disease Outbreak Strikes California Deer Herds
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) – Wildlife and Fish Health – Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease of Deer