ABSTRACT

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is the most significant source of viral disease–related mortality in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the US. Deer mortality from EHD has increased in the state of Michigan, US, since 2006, with the largest outbreak occurring in 2012. The 2012 outbreak provided an opportunity to evaluate how this disease affected EHD-related mortality in deer populations at a spatial scale typical of that expected for the greatest disease risk. Our objectives were to quantify the population impacts and spatial extent of EHD associated with areas of disease risk for deer populations and to determine how populations recovered over time following localized EHD impacts. We estimated the annual local abundance of deer for 5 yr immediately following a recent EHD outbreak. Because proximity to wetlands may affect EHD occurrence, we surveyed deer at varying distances (about 1 km and 5 km) from a riparian corridor to determine spatial variation in population impacts. Further, we assessed differences in deer abundance for sites affected and unaffected by EHD. Abundance estimates were lower along transects near the riparian corridor only in the affected area, reflecting EHD mortality associated with wetlands. The only change in abundance over time was a significant increase in the riparian strata in the EHD-affected site.

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