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. The DNR call center staff are also available every day from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. at 1-888-WDNRINFO (1-888-936-7463).
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
- 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.
- Results of sick deer tested for CWD in 2013.
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.
Click a county for the contact list.
- Contact information
- For information on sick deer, contact:
- Nancy Businga
Wildlife health lab manager
Bureau of Wildlife Management