A new report from the National Wildlife Federation says climate change is having an impact on Michigan big game.
With rising temperatures, deeper droughts and more extreme weather events, wildlife officials say big game animals like deer, moose, and elk are finding it hard to adapt to the conditions.
Christopher Hoving, a Wildlife Adaptation Specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, said the main impact he’s seen with deer so far is a new disease called Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD.
“The outbreak last year which was a particularly warm year, we had 15,000 deer that were reported dead from the disease,” Hoving said. “Now 15,000 deer is a lot of deer and it had a big impact on local areas but, we have 1.7 million deer in Michigan so it didn’t affect the overall populations. It sort of made holes and gaps in their distribution.”
Hoving said EHD occurs more often in the Southern United State and occurred in Michigan once in the 1950s, and again in the 1970s. However, since 2006, the disease has occurred annually in the state.
Other factors affecting the deer population are car collisions and hunting season. However, Hoving said these factors are not as severe. Hunting season is regulated, and deer-car collisions don’t affect the majority of the deer population.