An outbreak of a hemorrhagic disease in whitetail deer across much of the Clearwater Region of Idaho may have killed about 2,000 animals but appears to be spreading more slowly than previous episodes.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease was confirmed as the cause of whitetail deer deaths near Kamiah in August. Since then EHD has popped up in other areas of the region and has tended to be more prevalent in lower-elevation canyons and breaklands.

The disease isn’t uncommon in the area and across the country, especially during the later parts of hot and dry summers when deer are concentrated around shrinking water sources and the gnats the spread it find abundant habitat in standing water and the muddy edges of receding ponds. Outbreaks have been documented in eastern Washington near Colfax as well.

Clay Hickey, regional wildlife manager for Idaho Fish and Game at Lewiston, said the 2021 outbreak doesn’t seem as dire as some previous outbreaks, and it doesn’t seem to be racing through deer herds. But Hickey noted it is killing animals and will continue to do so.

“It is progressing slower in a lot of these outlying areas much like it did in Kamiah,” he said. “We are getting later and later, and it’s getting cooler and we are starting to get frost in the upper elevations. The longer we can go without losing too many deer, the better off we can be.”

The department estimates the number of dead whitetail deer to be between 1,800 to 2,100. A more precise estimate will be made once the outbreak is over. That will happen when temperatures drop enough for a widespread frost.

An outbreak in 2003 killed an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 whitetail deer in the Clearwater Region. More information on EHD is available at bit.ly/2WZJA1O.

Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.