DRAYTON, N.D. — A fatal disease that has afflicted deer herds in western and central North Dakota has now been confirmed in the northern Red River Valley.

Two deer found dead near Drayton, North Dakota, tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease, said Dr. Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck. Bahnson said Sunday he didn't know how many deer had been found dead in the northern valley, but one unconfirmed report put the tally at 17.

“So far, it doesn’t appear to be as severe and as widespread as farther west,” Bahnson said Sunday, Oct. 10, via text message.

Additional information on the outbreak wasn’t immediately available.

Caused by a biting midge, EHD primarily afflicts white-tailed deer, but other big game species also are potentially susceptible. Southwest North Dakota has been the hardest-hit area in recent years, but the outbreak typically subsides with the first hard frost and the onset of colder weather.

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The Game and Fish Department is exploring options for refunding the cost of deer licenses in the hardest-hit parts of the state this fall for hunters who desire a refund.