The commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said it’s hard to predict how soon the state’s deer population will rebound from a decimating disease.
Greg Johnson offered testimony last week to a House subcommittee. Johnson said hemorrhagic disease hit particularly hard in Appalachia.
“Deer in east Kentucky do not re-populate as quickly as they do in other parts of the state. So, right now, I’m not sure we’re prepared to forecast how quickly they might return to the population numbers, prior to blue tongue,” said Johnson. “But, there are deer there. The ones that survive will have a resistance to the disease.”
Transmission of the disease is caused by a virus carrying fly or midge. Deputy Commissioner Karen Waldrop said boosting deer numbers depends up the availability of food for deer.
“The acorn crop. That actually is very important for our deer population over there, whereas in other parts of the state because of agriculture and other types of habitat, they’re more dependent on other things,” said Waldrop. “So, really it’s going to depend on our acorn crop the next couple of years, as far as getting those does healthy and everything.”
Commissioner Johnson said, in the short term, there will be limitations on deer harvest for the areas of the state affected by what’s termed ‘blue tongue’ disease.