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Report: Deer Bleeding Disease Connected to Climate Change

PHOTO: A new National Wildlife Federation report outlines how climate change is affecting big game, making a connection between a bleeding disease and Iowa's white-tailed deer. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service
PHOTO: A new National Wildlife Federation report outlines how climate change is affecting big game, making a connection between a bleeding disease and Iowa's white-tailed deer. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service
November 14, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa - White-tailed deer are sometimes so plentiful in Iowa they're considered a nuisance. However, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, that could quickly become different because of climate change, which is affecting big-game populations around the country.

Hemorrhagic disease, spread by tiny, biting insects rather than directly from animal to animal, hit Iowa's white-tailed deer particularly hard last year. It is often fatal to the animals, though some do recover.

Report author Dr. Doug Inkley explained how it's connected to climate change.

"And the reason the proliferation in hot, dry times is because the water sources dry up, and so the deer congregate where the no-see-ums are."

The report says not all big game are negatively affected by climate change. Bears are resilient and elk may fare better than deer, at least in the short term.

According to Todd Tanner, founder of Conservation Hawks, a hunting and fishing organization, no-one can claim not to see what's happening.

"We have to get our act together. There's literally no time to waste," he said. "When you're a hunter, when you're someone who spends time on the landscape, this is personal."

The report recommends taking climate change into account for natural resource management, maintaining connections between winter and summer ranges and identifying future habitats for animals as their primary grounds become degraded.

The report, "Nowhere to Run: Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World," is at NWF.org.


Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - IA