The shotgun deer season opens today in Iowa and the ongoing drought could have an impact on whether some hunters find deer. A disease called “Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease” or E-H-D hit the Iowa deer herd this year as dry weather caused the animals to become concentrated around water sources.

DNR wildlife research supervisor, Willie Suchy, says the disease took its toll. “We have E-H-D almost every year in Iowa, usually not to the extent that we’ve seen this year. We had about three-thousand reported, and probably quite a few more that died out there,” Suchy says.

The impact of the disease adds to what has been an ongoing effort to reduce the deer herd by allowing hunters to shoot more does. “Hunters may see in some areas, especially in south-central and southern Iowa, a lack of deer that’s simply do to that (EHD). But it’s gonna be a challenge for hunters to find deer anyway,” Suchy says.

E-H-D is spread by a biting midge, and that threat goes away after the first heavy frost kills off the midges. “It was pretty much done after October. They might still find some deer that are dead laying in the field that have some secondary infections,” Suchy says.

“But hunters shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The virus isn’t anything that they can contract from the deer and the deer should be recovered from it.”

The DNR says the deer numbers are the lowest they have been since 2003. The first shotgun deer season runs through December 5th.