What to do if you see a sick or dead deer

Dead deer observations

Please contact your local biologist or conservation warden with any observations of winter deer mortalities.

During an open deer hunting season: If you have a valid deer hunting license, you may shoot the deer if it appears sick (provided that you follow all other applicable laws). If you shoot a deer that appears sick, you may be issued a replacement tag based on the evaluation of the local wildlife or law enforcement staff. Note: Coat irregularities, seasonal hair changes and skin problems such as fibromas do not constitute a sick deer. If you are in doubt and have the opportunity, please contact local wildlife or law enforcement staff. The DNR is also interested in reports of several or more dead deer in one area.

Outside of an open deer hunting season: If you see a deer that you suspect may be sick, immediately contact your local biologist or conservation warden and they will either come to your location and dispatch the deer, or will give you permission to shoot the animal. Also, please contact the DNR to submit reports of several or more dead deer in one area.

Sick deer reporting is the most efficient way to monitor disease and remove disease agents from the landscape. Your cooperation is appreciated! Additional information on deer health.

Clinical signs of CWD

  • No fear of humans
  • Teeth grinding
  • Notable weakness
  • Drooping of head and ears
  • Excessive thirst
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Walking in set patterns
  • Nervousness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Excessive salivation
  • Diminished tone of facial muscles
  • Excessive urination
  • Severe emaciation and dehydration
  • Inability to stand

Chronic wasting disease

If a deer is showing signs of CWD it should be tested. Transport the deer to a CWD sampling station if in the CWD managment zone during a deer hunting season or contact your local biologist or conservation warden.

Signs that do not constitute a sick deer

The following images are examples of signs that alone do not constitute a sick deer or make the meat unsafe to eat. There are extra precautions people can take while processing their deer, however, the choice to consume the meat should be made on an individual basis for each deer.

Fibromas Fibromas Hair loss Hair loss Hair loss

Click a county for the contact list.

Year-round in the chronic wasting disease management zone, sick deer calls can also be directed to Don Bates at 608-935-1947 for the southwest counties and Tim Lizotte at 262-574-2120 for the southeast counties. The DNR call center staff are available every day from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. at 1-888-WDNRINFO (1-888-936-7463).

Click to view licensed wildlife rehabilitator information Douglas Bayfield Ashland Iron Vilas Burnett Washburn Sawyer Price Oneida Forest Florence Polk Barron Rusk Taylor Lincoln Langlade Oconoto Marinette St. Croix Dunn Chippewa Pierce Pepin Eau Claire Clark Marathon Shawano Oconto Buffalo Trempealeau Jackson Wood Portage Waupaca Outagamie Brown Kewaunee Door La Crosse Monroe Juneau Adams Waushara Marquette Green Lake Winnebago Fond Du Lac Sheboygan Calumet Manitowoc Vernon Crawford Richland Sauk Columbia Dodge Washington Ozaukee Grant Iowa Dane Jefferson Waukesha Milwaukee Lafayette Green Rock Walworth Racine Kenosha

Contact information
For information on sick deer, contact:
Tim Marien
CWD wildlife biologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management
608-264-6046
Last revised: Wednesday March 05 2014