ROCKFORD - Thousands of deer are dead, causing local hunters to fear this year's deer season might be in jeopardy.
"In a really quick time frame, you can have 20 deer dead," said owner of Obsession Archery and expert hunter Chris Christenson.
Since August of this year more than 2-thousand deer
Also known as "Blue Tongue Disease," the virus has been found in 76 counties and is carried by small mites.
"If the mite is carrying the disease, then all of a sudden the deer is going to get the disease," said Christenson. "Once that happens, usually within 24 hours the deer dies."
Troubling news for hunters, who just began bow season and are already seeing results.
"A lot of the guys are already getting does, it's kind of exciting already, " said Christenson.
So far no deer in
"Hunters are very concerned this is going to happen here," said Christenson. "If we get cold weather it'll kill the mite, that will eliminate the problem for this year."
When a deer gets sick, the virus causes high fever, internal bleeding and tends to force the deer to nearby water for relief.
Local experts say the high number of deer getting sick this year might be due to the unusually hot summer.
"It's a very strange summer, no rain basically, so that's causing a lot of this," said Christenson.
State officials are asking anyone who finds a sick or dead deer to contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The virus can also affect elk, mule deer, antelope and bighorn sheep. There is currently no cure for the virus.