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Stop feeding deer to prevent spread of deadly virus, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says

Adenovirus hemorrhagic disease is spreading through deer in the San Juan Islands. Not feeding deer could prevent them from congregating and spreading the virus.

Editor's note: The above video from previous reporting on AHD in San Juan deer aired on 05/12/21.

WASHINGTON, USA - Deer in the San Juan Islands are showing signs of a deadly, contagious virus, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is asking residents to stop feeding them in hopes of stopping the spread. 

Adenovirus hemorrhagic disease (AHD) has been found in deer on Blakely, Henry, Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, Shaw, and Stuart islands. WDFW is investigating possible cases of the virus in Oak Harbor.

WDFW is concerned about the local spread in the San Juan Islands and possible impacts on larger deer herds should AHD reach the mainland.  

Residents are asked to avoid any wildlife feeding, including low-hanging bird feeders, salt licks and supplemental water. This prevents deer from congregating, which reduces the chance that they will spread the disease. When deer rely on natural food and water sources, they're more likely to stay apart, which could save their lives, according to WDFW.  

Deer with AHD may have rapid, open-mouth breathing, foaming or drooling from the mouth, diarrhea, weakness, emaciation and seizures, according to WDFW. Death can typically occur within three to five days of exposure, although not all infected deer die. There is currently no known treatment or cure. 

WDFW asks anyone who spots a deer with signs of AHD to report the sighting using the dead or sick/injured wildlife reporting tool found on WDFW’s Wildlife Diseases webpage. You can find more information about AHD on WDFW’s AHD webpage.