A viral disease that primarily impacts white-tailed deer and pronghorn could curtail hunting seasons, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The agency says it's tracking an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and has identified the virus in the Arvada area as well as areas near Douglas, Laramie and Cheyenne.

Wyoming’s wildlife managers see EHD in big game every year, however, some years have greater impacts than others, and 2021 could be one of them.

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"This year seems worse, but we are just at the beginning of the outbreak,” said Wildlife Health Lab Supervisor Hank Edwards. "Monitoring will be important to chart the impacts."

EHD typically occurs in the fall, especially in dry conditions coupled with drought, when wildlife gather around small water holes where the disease-carrying biting midge lives.

"The midge collects a 'blood meal,' like a mosquito," Edwards said. "When the midge bites another animal, the virus spreads."

Wildlife managers expect areas with high deer numbers will be impacted the hardest and some isolated pronghorn areas. The number of animals affected is expected to increase until the first hard frost kills off midge populations.

Game and Fish says hunters should be aware of EHD, but shouldn’t be concerned about contracting the virus or spreading it to their pets.

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