Disease suspected to be killing deer in part of the state

A white tail deer. (Wikimedia commons photo)

A disease is suspected to be killing deer in the Portland area, according to environmental officials.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it discovered a die-off of several white-tailed deer and that it was likely the result of hemorrhagic disease.

DEEP said the disease is one of the most important infectious diseases that affect deer.

It said while the exact cause of death has not been determined, the manner in which the dead deer were found suggested that the disease was the culprit.

DEEP encouraged anyone who notices deer that appear to be emaciated, behaving strangely or lying dead along the edge of waterbodies to report it to DEEP's emergency dispatch center at 860-424-3333 or the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-418-5921.

DEEP said it is looking to test further cases to confirm that the disease is what's killing the deer.

It said a hunter reported earlier this month that several dead deer were found near the Connecticut River in the area of Sand Hill Road in Portland.

The animals were in various stages of decay along a bank. Some were even floating in the water.

In all, DEEP found more than a dozen deer dead in the area.

Hemorrhagic disease is transmitted through insect bites from biting midges, also known as sand gnats, sand flies or no-see-ums.

DEEP said there has not been a significant negative impact on the long-term health of deer herds in other states where the disease was detected because only localized pockets of the animals tend to be infected in certain areas.

It also said the disease does not affect humans and rarely causes illness in other animals.

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