OH DEER!!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: September 17, 2023

There is another Deer disease on the horizon. Not only do hunters need to worry about CWD, Blue Tongue, Brucellosis, and other health issues, here comes Bovine TB. Some of these diseases are easy to identify and others are not. If you are not sure, have the carcass tested. 

 Bovine Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called.  Mycobacterium Bovus. This disease has shown up throughout North America but is generally found in domestic cattle. Wild Cervids, such as deer, elk, and some small mammals, such as racoons, coyotes, and Opossums. 

There are sporadic outbreaks in areas near cattle farms. Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and other states are seeing spikes in this disease, being transmitted from cattle to deer, since they share the same pastures. Studies show that less than 2% of the deer population is infected. 

It seems that the disease is being transmitted from body fluids, urine, feces, open wounds, and unpasteurized dairy products. One case involved a confirmed human, from raw milk transmission. 

Hunters often use salt and mineral licks. To attract deer. Attractant scents, deer urine, bait piles, and other fluid involved strategies invite transmission. Nose to nose contact over a bait pile, saliva exchange from licks, and denser populations are causes for concern. These same issues can be connected to other deer/ elk diseases. 

There are no effective treatments for infected deer. If an area becomes a TB hotspot, deer reduction/ elimination is suggested. Denser deer populations mean more contact. Private lands and urban areas, where hunting/ access is restricted have a higher risk for outbreaks. 

Farmers can do more by reducing supplemental, old, silage feeding. The bacterium can stay viable in silage for several months. When animals eat the aged silage, they can become infected. Deer in areas of cattle farms are more likely to have the disease. 

All hunters should wear plastic gloves when dressing their kills. Proper hygiene after dealing with raw meat and a carcass is important. During the dressing process, inspect the inner body cavity for lesions or bumps attached to the ribcage or chest cavity. 

Infected deer can be eaten if cooked to at least 160 degrees. 

Be a student, and a DR. of the sport and know what to look for.

Montana Grant

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