Here’s another thing you can blame on the drought: a virus that has killed hundreds of deer in Illinois this year. The Department of Natural Resources’ deer program manager, Tom Micetich, says the dry conditions create a good breeding ground for the gnat, or midge, that carries epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
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“You have limited water, with probably higher numbers of deer using the same water source, and the midge itself requires that muddy fringe along the shoreline for its life cycle needs,” says Micetich. “So all you need is a sick deer to join the party, and the rest is not very pretty.” Micetich says the disease comes each year, but a dry year such as this is worse. Mild winters, he says, can also aid the gnat population. More than 700 deer have died from EHD this year, covering 51 counties. Some counties have a single death; Cook County has had 256.