EHD is not that large of a problem. It happens every year and many deer are thought to carry the disease but not be affected as long as the conditions (food/water/temp) don't get too bad. However, it hits the population extremely hard in severe drought times or if the population is getting over carrying capacity.
I am glad to hear that your DNR reported the actual numbers (90%) because down here in TN our reports said between 18-40% die off at most. However, the actual numbers and biologist that I know said closer to 90% in several areas but the state agency didn't want to take the chance on losing license sales. Also, they opened up a Unit L where you can kill 290+ deer a year (3 bucks) right after we had our worst wave of the EHD.....shows how RETARDED my state is in managing deer....one of my biggest pet peeves!!!!
nyways, populations do rebound very well if you have the next few years without a bad drought. Also, many of the deer that do survive in the extreme problem years have a genetic resistance to the disease and it is thought that once these are passed on through a few generations, the deer won't get hit as hard again until that trait falls out of the herd. So after a hard hit year, it should be gone for a while. We had a kinda hard year, and extremely BAD year, then we haven't seen hardly any of it since then...been 6+ years
Vol- Let's be fair and honest. To start with, our state ranks among the tops in the age strata of bucks killed and this year showed an increase of approx. 6,000 antlered bucks killed over last year with the total kill of all deer up 6K. That doesn't happen in a state with a poorly managed herd. Last year, total deer killed 160K. This 166K last year antlered bucks 79K. This year 85K. Now those are factual figures as of 2:56 p.m., Jan. 10. Now I'll deal with our EHD.
There were indeed pockets and areas where as much as 90% of the deer population was hit with EHD. AREAS, not the entire state where it may have been less far than 40% by number of the entire deer population. To say the impact was 90% would have been poor thinking by the TWRA. It would imply our deer herd overall was in serious trouble when in fact, it was not in any trouble at all.
In most of Unit L, where I live and hunt, impact was light overall. In most of the area, it was negligible. That is fact based on census information, not hunter sightings. However, Unit L with a 3-doe limit was in place before the serios EHD outbreak here. But...there could have been no limit and there would not have been an impact. Here, let me prove it. I have been studying Unit L since its' inception and have been amazed at what a 3-doe per day limit does. Only one thing-it allows hunters to understand it is okay to shoot does. Good idea, I think. So let us examine actual, factual data. Of course, we have rebounded from the EHD outbreak but the figures are interesting.
As of this afternoon-Tuesday, Jan. 10, 166,481 deer were killed in TN this past season. A few tags still to be counted. The total number of hunters that killed one or more deer was 89,077 and of that number, only 9,274 hunters killed three or more deer of any sex-roughly 10%. I personaly killed seven, two bucks and five does. Guess how many hunters killed seven deer...of any sex? A grand total of 540. 314 hunters killed 8 and 182 killed nine. Really hammered them with that 3-doe a day limit, didn't we? You see, hunters just will not kill three does a day. It is too much work and then you have the meat to deal with. But they will understand the herd is healthy and it is okay to kill a doe or six. That is how you get a balanced sex ratio. This year, the kill was approaching 50:50 and that is fantastic.
Now let's talk about bucks. There were 85,115 bucks killed, just about 6,000 more than last year and the age strata was among the best if not the best of any any state. The number of successfull hunters was/is 64,221. And a staggering 2,766 killed three. That is right at 4%. Obviously, there is no benefit to lowering the buck limit to two or one. You improve nothing. The most beneficial thing we could do is count a button as a buck and require him to be tagged.
Yes, in some areas, EHD dang sure had an impact. It was temporary and it will most assuredly happen again when weather conditions get right. However, after looking at factual data and talking with Daryl, overall, the impact on a general basis was minimal and nowhere even close to 90%. The biologists you spoke with who gave that number were probably talking about their specific area and they were correct.
I have always found it helpfull when talking about deer management to have some accurate facts and figures to work from. Here in TN, the facts and figures indicate the exact opposite of a poorly managed deer herd. That we will never have bucks with antlers comparable to the midwest, no matter what is done...is factual. That will never happen. That our buck herd, in age, sex ratio and number to c.c. is among the top 5 in the country, is also factual.
I have lived and worked in the wildlife field in several states for over 30-years. I have known many of the big game managers. I can say without reservation, TN has one of the best I have ever known and I don't even like the Yankee sob.
Most hunters base their opinion of the deer management in their state on three things: 1-the number of deer they see. 2-the number of bucks they see.3-the number of large antlered bucks they see. The two words, "THEY SEE". is where the problem lies. Hunters seldom if ever see what is really out there.