With all the media coverage on deer diseases lately, let’s cut through the confusion and talk facts. To date, neither chronic wasting disease (CWD) or tuberculosis have been detected in Georgia deer. However, there are circumstances when wildlife biologists rely on the public to notify them of sick animals in order to monitor disease issues.

 

Here are the top 5 circumstances when you should call and talk to a biologist:

  1. Dead deer in or near a stream, lake, or pond with no apparent injuries.

Buck found dead in water
Buck found dead in water with no signs of trauma. Photo credit: Georgia DNR

 

  1. Emaciated deer, which are so skinny that their backbone, pelvic bones, and all ribs are showing.

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Emaciated deer. Photo credit: Tony Pratt Photography

 

  1. Deer walking in circles, have a lack of coordination, or trouble standing or walking.

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An emaciated Kansas deer suffering from CWD. Photo credit: Missouri Dept. of Conservation

 

  1. Deer with no apparent injuries with drooping ears, abnormal posture, or drooling heavily.

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Photo credit: Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife

 

  1. Deer that are excessively coughing, sneezing, or have yellow bumps on the lungs and inside rib cage.

Pustules in chest cavity of deer
Lesions lining the rib cage of a white-tailed deer with tuberculosis. Photo credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

 

How is Georgia monitoring diseases that haven’t been detected in the state?

As early as 2001, Georgia DNR began making Chronic Wasting Disease response plans and began proactive annual testing of harvested deer in 2002. If CWD were to be found in Georgia, the Wildlife Resources Division would immediately implement its response plan, including the following steps in cooperation with local land owners and hunters:

  • Notify the public and all stakeholders in the infected area and surrounding counties.
  • Begin enhanced surveillance in the infected area and surrounding counties.
  • Collect deer to determine the extent and prevalence of the disease.
  • Provide an avenue for local hunters and landowners to have deer tested for CWD.

 

If you observe or harvest a deer that exhibits CWD symptoms, please call your regional DNR office or your local Game Warden.

 

More info on chronic wasting disease: CWD: Two States “Away” But Not Yet in Georgia