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Game, Fish and Parks removes some unsold deer licenses in response to disease concerns

Game, Fish and Parks

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has removed certain unsold antlerless deer licenses from some hunting units in western South Dakota due to a fatal deer disease, the department said in a news release.

Hemorrhagic disease, caused by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) or blue tongue (BT) virus, is spread by a biting midge and causes extensive internal hemorrhaging in infected animals. Many deer exhibit no clinical signs and appear perfectly healthy, while others may have symptoms such as respiratory distress, fever, swelling of the tongue, or ultimately death.

“Based on documented mortality and disease detection from radio-marked deer, reports from landowners, and considering the population objectives of deer hunting units, our first step in addressing this year’s EHD situation is to remove a total of 559 unsold antlerless whitetail deer licenses valid on private land only in Harding and Meade counties,” said wildlife division director, Tom Kirschenmann.

All 559 licenses removed were double tag licenses, which is a total of 1,118 total tags.

Hemorrhagic disease has been confirmed in ten counties across the state. GFP will continue to monitor these reported deer losses to determine if additional changes are needed for other hunting units and future deer hunting seasons.

“We are encouraging hunters and landowners to continue to report dead deer to their local GFP conservation officer or GFP office. As a result of these deer losses, hunters are reminded to contact landowners or local GFP staff to learn more about local conditions,” Kirschenmann said. “GFP’s new license return policy allows hunters to return licenses for any reason, as long as they are postmarked prior to the start of the respective season, for a full refund and reinstatement of preference points”.

For more information on the EHD virus visit

Corrected: September 28, 2021 at 11:59 AM CDT
This story has been changed to fix incorrect language regarding the spread of deer diseases in the state.