WARNING VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED
DUE TO THE GRAPHIC NATURE OF IMAGES PRESENTED
WITH THE PRIMARY INTENTION OF
BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
We received a report from several people about a fresh white-tailed deer carcass in Pine Island on Wednesday March 2, 2011. The body was slightly warm and the limbs were starting to get stiff with rigor-mortis. There were a couple differences about this animal that made me wonder how the animal had died. The first thing that intrigued me was that it was located about 50 feet north of Bissell Rd., so I wondered if this animal was struck by a car and walked a short distance into the woods and died. The other odd thing is that the animal died right in the center of the Mattatuck Trail with no obvious signs of struggle. Deer and other wildlife frequently use the human trails to travel when the snow is deep because the snow is compacted on the trail and it is easier to walk on. However, I did not observe any tracks or sign in close proximity of the carcass that indicated a predator could have killed the animal. The animal's hind quarters were injured, which may suggest a coyote had attacked it before and it died some time after. But these injuries could have been caused by scavengers because there was not a large amount of blood lost on the snow near the injury. American crows were observed scavenging the animal on other body parts. There were no other external injuries that suggested it was hurt by a vehicle. So, why and how did animal die? Was it hit on the road by a vehicle? Did a predator injure it, which lead to its death? Did this animal die because it was an extreme winter and it died from exposure? The scavengers were already working on the carcass and I had to make a fast decision. I decided to do a quick necropsy to see what clues I could find. Check back for future blog entries this week to learn what I discovered.
|White-tailed deer carcass after I performed a quick necropsy|
to examine what may have caused it death.
Photo By James Fischer
Advisory: Please do not touch, feed, or disturb wild animals of unknown origin. If you see an animal in distress please contact a licensed animal control officer, licensed wildlife rehabilitator, or other trained and certified wildlife professional. You may expose yourself or the animal to unnecessary injury, distress, or disease. This procedure was performed by a professional wildlife biologist who took proper precautions to avoid exposure to pathogens and other potential human-wildlife diseases.