MCCLELLAN TOWNSHIP, Ind. — A combination of parasites, poor nutrition, heavy snowfall, and a late-season cold snap all probably contributed to more than 30 white-tailed deer deaths inside the fenced-in bison area of the Kankakee Sands in late February through early March.
Test results from the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab at Purdue University found that the wild deer were infested with parasites known as lungworm, which occur commonly throughout the deer’s range, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
It is likely high parasite loads, combined with heavy snowfall, poor nutrition and a prolonged period of cold weather were contributing factors to the animals’ deaths, Moriah Boggess, a deer biologist with the DNR’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, reported. All deer sampled tested negative for chronic wasting disease.
In a press release, DNR also urged the public to avoid eating meat from animals known or suspected to be ill and asked anyone who sees wildlife infected or dead from illness to report it online at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife.
DNR started receiving reports of deer death at Kankakee Sands around Feb. 27
Trevor Edmonson, site manager at the Kankakee Sands told the Newton County Enterprise that the deceased deer were found after the late February snow had melted and they were found spread out over a few days.
“We are thankful that no diseases were found, and hope the deer can find better forage elsewhere outside of the bison pasture,” said Edmonson. “We are hopeful that this doesn’t ever happen again. The deer feel safe there during hunting season and we are still working on ways to encourage the herds not to remain there.”