Wart-covered deer give hunters the creeps in Pennsylvania
Reader Jim Fink, who lives just north of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, recently sent us a photo of a deer (shown) covered by tumor-like growths he saw near his home this summer, and he asked what caused the condition.
We found out, and we thought you would be interested in what we learned.
The deer appeared lethargic and fed in a corn field along a busy road. Fink called the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Game Warden Jason Macunas, of the Southeast Region, Schuylkill County, was dispatched to the scene.
When Macunas arrived about an hour later, Fink said, the deer was still there. The warden killed the deer and removed it from the field.
Turns out, according to the Quality Deer Management Association, the buck had warts. The growths are cutaneous fibromas and are caused by a papilloma virus.
The fibromas, QDMA says, are hairless tumors that can be found on any part of the skin, and they occur everywhere deer live. They can vary from 1/2-inch to 8 inches in diameter. Fibromas can occur singly or in clumps like on the deer Fink photographed.
Fibromas are the most conspicuous deer disease, QDMA points out, and hunters routinely report them to state or local deer managers. Fibromas can look grotesque, but unless the tumors become large enough to interfere with an animal’s sight, breathing, eating or walking, they have little impact on the individual animal and thus, little or no impact on the deer population.
Biting insects and contaminated vegetation can transmit the virus from one deer to another, and an infected deer can transmit the virus by direct contact with another animal. Fortunately, deer cannot spread the virus to farm animals or humans, we’re told.
Should you eat the meat from a deer with fibromas? QDMA says you can.
“Only large tumors with secondary bacterial infection cause a deer to be unfit for human consumption,” the group says. “Infected tumors often are swollen and contain pus.” But small, uninfected fibromas like those seen in the photo Fink provided above do not affect the quality of the meat.