Elk NetworkNebraska Hunters, Others Asked to Report Dead Big Game Animals

General | August 25, 2023

Below is a news release from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Nebraska wildlife officials say conditions in certain areas of the state are suitable for the spread of deadly viral diseases among big game populations. They are asking the public to report unexplained death or illnesses of deer, pronghorn, elk and bighorn sheep.

Observations of unhealthy big game animals or unexplained deaths should be reported to the nearest Nebraska Game and Parks Commission office. Locations include Alliance, Bassett, Kearney, Gretna, North Platte, Lincoln, Omaha and Norfolk.

In big game animals, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, often causes high fever, internal bleeding, swelling, lesions, lethargy, increased heart rate, dehydration, salivation, incoordination and loss of fear of humans. The symptoms and spread are similar to bluetongue disease, another disorder that can kill certain wildlife and domestic livestock.

Both are labeled hemorrhagic diseases and indistinguishable without laboratory analysis. While the diseases do not affect humans, they can be destructive to big game populations.

The diseases are most prevalent in late summer until the first frost. For both EHD and bluetongue, certain tiny midges or gnats bite a host and move the virus to nearby animals. When animals congregate at water during drought, the insects have potential to spread the virus to more animals. Additionally, infected animals often seek water for relief and die in or near it.

The Aug. 3 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows conditions throughout eastern Nebraska range from “abnormally dry” to “exceptional drought,” the most severe condition.

(Photo credit: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)