The Wild Side.Oct. 28, 2012

The longer you go into the outdoors, the more you can come to understand that what you see in animals you see in people, and what you see in people you see in animals.

Jam young humans into classrooms or adults into office buildings or on airplanes during the flu season and you have more flu cases. It happens.

The same thing happens in the animal kingdom, and it’s happening in south Louisiana today.

Get a hurricane-caused flood, and let the floodwaters remain high for an extended period, and it causes animal populations to concentrate in smaller areas where the animals are trying to survive.

Hurricane Isaac did that: Never before seen floodwaters lingered in nearly every parish south and east of Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River, and a species like deer has nowhere to go.

Deer were forced into small areas of high ground.

OK, so I’m not a wildlife biologist, but when we’ve seen these kinds of disasters before, the folks who tune into these changed environs usually hold a collective breath until there’s some final outcome.

Well, that outcome is here in the form of hemorrhagic disease, a viral disease that breaks out after some kind of severe alteration in habitat. Sometimes it happens during droughts when deer are forced into smaller and smaller water-holding spots. This time it happened when too much water forced too many of them to live among their cousins.

Friday, the Wildlife and Fisheries biologists who tend to upland game reported receiving what the LDWF called “numerous reports of dead and dying white-tailed deer this fall.”

Further stated was that most of the calls have come from parishes along the Mississippi River in south Louisiana, but that there were scattered reports from across the state.

And this die-off can be traced to the hemorrhagic disease virus or bluetongue virus, two related, but different viruses.

State Deer Study leader Scott Durham has had to explain these outbreaks before, to say that the viruses are spread by gnat bites, that some deer have developed an immunity to them, and that some deer survive the disease, but most survivors are healthy animals and have not had to survive prolonged, high-stress conditions. If you take a deer with curved hooves, then it’s a survivor.

To add to the report, call LDWF veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour (225) 765-0823 or Durham (225) 765-2351.

Meet a champion

Kim Rhodes was a star for the U.S. Olympic Team during the first days of the London Olympics this past summer. If you didn’t hear a lot about her, it was because the TV folks spent only a few minutes covering her sport, skeet shooting.

Rhodes left London with a gold medal, and she’s at Cabela’s until 4 p.m. Sunday, along with Kelly Haydel from Haydel’s Game Calls and Duck Commander’s Justin Marrin and John Goodwin.