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Rick Bramwell

Joe Jones and I were supposed to fish Westwood Lake on Tuesday but wound up replacing a battery and rewiring my boat. During this hours-long process, the conversation turned to deer and the prevalence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). Yes, I have been writing about it but did not realize how big this problem has become. I learned this by way of Kentucky.

Joe has seen three deer, or the same deer three times, at midday standing in the middle of the road and looking sick. Could they have EHD?

I listened to Jim Strader Outdoors on Louisville’s 840 AM WHAS. They were talking about how epidemic-like EHD was in Kentucky and said it was even worse in southern Indiana, especially the counties that border the Ohio River. Strader reported 26 deer found dead on one property in Butler County.

He criticized the Indiana DNR for establishing too liberal a harvest and not seeing this on the horizon. I agree. All the former four bonus antlerless counties have been trimmed to two. Madison County should never have been a four.

The perfect storm is a wet spring followed by a late-summer drought. As water recedes in small ponds and pits, tiny midges hatch out of the mud. These insects bite the deer causing high fever and, most often, death.

The radio program airs Sundays at 6 p.m. and can be picked up with a little static. According to the broadcast, dead deer are being pulled from ponds, streams and rivers in parts of Kentucky.

Eating an EHD infected deer will not harm humans, but there are other things to look out for that will — bovine tuberculosis (BTB) and chronic wasting disease (CWD). Neither have shown up in Indiana, but the possibility is there.

BTB can affect humans but has not been found in Indiana’s wild deer herd yet. However, the DNR recommends hunters continue to inspect harvested deer for white or tan lesions on the internal organs or inner wall of the deer’s chest cavity. If lesions are found, hunters should contact an Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) veterinarian by calling (877) 747-3038.

CWD is edging ever closer to the Hoosier state, having been detected in Illinois and Michigan. Our DNR will test harvested deer for CWD this season.

Some super-sized, 30-pound plus chinook salmon have been caught in Michigan and Indiana this fall, giving our fisheries biologists the incentive to begin stocking more.

The predator/prey balance has improved to the point where Indiana will increase stocking of chinooks by 150,000 fish in 2020, a move made possible through the increase in stocking quota and additional reductions to stockings of steelhead and Coho Salmon. This is a fair trade-off. I think most angers would agree.

Also, substantial cuts to fall fingerling Coho stockings will be replaced with fewer, but larger, spring Coho yearlings. Similar changes on the St. Joseph River have proven extremely successful at increasing salmon returns. The older and larger fish have a much better chance of survival.

Rick Bramwell’s outdoors column runs on Thursdays.

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