It’s not a surprise when someone is feeling under the weather this time of year. Runny noses, fevers, and the dreaded stomach bug which makes 24 hours feel like 24 days. But compared to deer, humans are fragile and weak. The injuries and parasites deer live with every day would have us begging for a swift end. However, sometimes the microscopic civilization deer transport and live with do cause them trouble.
An obvious outward sign of this is diarrhea. There are many infections and viruses deer live with that can cause diarrhea. And young animals are more susceptible to disease as a general rule. There cause can be a variety of infectious and non-infectious sources. Chronic diarrhea can result in fecal staining of the tail, around the anus and on the legs, which can result in irritation of the skin as well as secondary infections of the skin.
Many of the disease-causing agents we commonly see in deer only become clinically-significant when the deer population exceeds the carrying capacity of the habitat. Parasites such as arterial worm, lung worm, and most of the GI nematodes can be found in deer without signs of disease. Typically, they only cause disease when deer densities are high. Certainly one way to achieve high concentrations of deer in an area is through feeding.
Have I mentioned feeding deer is a bad idea? Resist the temptation to “help” deer. Don’t feed them! Feeding deer can cause a host of problems to deer, habitat and even people. MassWildlife has put together a video that captures all these issues. Take a look.
*Video shared with permission from Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Article By: Jeannine Tardiff Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist, Deer & Elk Management Section
Pennsylvania Game Commission