After a recent deer hunting trip to central Wisconsin (we had a blast) we came back with more info on the same blue tongue deer disease that’s been popping up in our neck of the woods as well. Blue-Tongue is a virus that infect cattle, goats, elk, deer and other ruminants. What’s strange is how it is spread: primarily through insect bites from gnats and midges living in the soil. When deer walk across the land they stir up the soil and these little insects become airborne and can bite the deer and spread the virus. Once infected the deer goes down for the count in a big hurry. Many die within a week and are often found near water with the tell-tale blue tongue hanging out (it becomes swollen during the illness).
Wisconsin experienced a mild winter last year, a suspected catalyst in helping the virus thrive and spread. In some areas of Columbia, Sauk, and Marquette counties (where we were hunting in central Wisconsin) scores of deer have been found by hunting land owners and farmers. Some land owners are reporting drastic herd reductions on plots of hunting land previously teaming with deer and trophy bucks. (the buck on the left was found by one of the hunting land owners in WI who let us bow hunt on his property. He claims the buck had blue tongue and was found by a pond).
The good news is blue tongue tends to flair up in areas, and then become less prevalent over time. Unlike CWD, which stays in an area for years and years and can have negative effects on the deer herd, prices of hunting land for sale, farming and other practices, blue tongue is normally considered more of a flash in the pan.
The infected deer we have seen on our hunting land up here we suspect were killed by blue tongue are primarily older, mature bucks which we presume may have weaker immune systems than their younger siblings. Just like CWD and other diseases affecting ungulates, the older deer tend to be the ones most affected. So the moral of the story is be on the lookout for this blue tongue virus when out in the woods deer hunting. As always, it’s best to educate yourself so you know what to look for, so here’s more info.