Mike Kendhammer used to look out his dining room window and see large groups of deer gathered in a field below.
“In the morning, I would have my coffee and read the newspaper, and I would always see a dozen, 15 or 20,” he said.
These days, the deer are gone.
Since last year, Kendhammer has found 15 dead deer on his 220-acre property just south of La Crosse. He said three other deer who died in similar circumstances were found on a nearby property. Last month, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources identified the cause of at least two of the deaths: epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
Kendhammer believes EHD killed the remaining 16 deer. He also believes that there are dead deer on his properties and in neighboring ones that have not yet been found.
“It devastated the herd of deer in this valley,” he said. “It’s like they’re all gone.”
EHD has surfaced elsewhere in the region. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported on Oct. 11 that confirmed cases had been found in Houston and Winona counties. Later in the week, the Wisconsin DNR confirmed a case in Juneau County and a third case in La Crosse County in the town of Medary.
Wisconsin and Minnesota DNR biologists don’t believe EHD poses the same threat to the deer herd as chronic wasting disease. EHD is common in the southern and western United States and was first identified in Wisconsin in 2002, when 14 deer died in Iowa County. There were reports of EHD last year in Buffalo and Oconto counties, but only 50 deer died statewide, according to the Wisconsin DNR.