Laboratory tests of white-tailed deer found dead along the Yellowstone River east of Billings have confirmed that the animals died of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD.
The contagious virus is spread by a tiny biting gnat that apparently is thriving throughout the region as a result of high runoff this spring.
Earlier this month, samples taken from deer found dead in Yellowstone, Phillips and Valley counties were sent to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study  laboratory. The test results confirmed that “EHD is definitely at work in eastern Montana.”
White-tailed deer, which biologists suspect died of EHD, also were found along the Musselshell River, Flatwillow Creek and Crooked Creek in Petroleum County and in Musselshell and Golden Valley counties and along the Missouri River as far west as Fort Benton. One mule deer is being tested. Laboratory results from those samples still are pending.
Wildlife officials believe that, while the EHD outbreak is widespread in Montana, it is not killing a high percentage of white-tailed deer. Spread of the disease normally is stemmed when the first frost of autumn kills the offending gnats.
For more scientific information about EHD, go to http://www.uga.edu/scwds/HD.pdf  on the Internet.