The outbreak was of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), which killed several deer on the property late last summer, according to information from HAAP. Due to low deer numbers, the hunt planned for the 2018 hunting season has now been cancelled.
A spokesman for HAAP said the deer population will be monitored during the upcoming year, and if deer numbers recover as anticipated, the installation hopes to resume its hunting program in 2019.
EHD is an infectious, and sometimes fatal, virus that is characterized by extensive hemorrhages. It’s transmitted by tiny biting flies and affects white-tail deer. The disease does not impact humans.
Deer afflicted with EHD often lose their appetite and fear of humans; salivate excessively; and have an increased pulse, respiration rate and temperature. Some survive and recover from the disease, but many die and are often found in or near water.
Matthew Cameron, with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said large EHD outbreaks typically occur in the Volunteer State every five to seven years. At Bays Mountain Park, Director Rob Cole said staff members have not seen any signs of the disease, either among the deer in the animal habitat or ones out in the park.
The Times News spoke with Justine Barati, the director of Public and Congressional Affairs at Joint Munition Command, about the outbreak and the future of deer hunts on the HAAP property.
How many deer were found to have had the disease?
“Last summer, we determined that there was an outbreak of EHD. Because the deer herd was reduced by the outbreak, we do not want to negatively impact with hunting. Based upon a survey of the installation, we predict that up to 20 percent of the herd was lost last year due to EHD.”
When was the last such outbreak?
“The last significant outbreak of the disease on the installation occurred in 1992.”
How long have there been deer hunts on the property?
“Deer hunts were initiated on Holston AAP around 1985 in an effort to control the number of deer on the installation. Around 200 hunters participate and the hunt starts at the beginning of deer season.”
How many deer are typically found on the property?
“I would estimate the current population on the installation to be 200 to 250 deer.”
Any further comments about the cancellation?
“It was a difficult decision to cancel our hunting program this year, because we know how popular it is with local hunters. However, the decision to cancel the hunts was made because we knew hunters would have a much lower chance of success. HAAP felt it wise to take a year off from its hunting program, to monitor how quickly the deer population can recover from the EHD outbreak.”