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Five deer found dead near Colfax home

Virus may be to blame, vet speculates
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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A Colfax-resident reported five dead deer near her home since mid-September, and suspects they may have died from a common virus. Fish and Game officials have yet to inspect the deer carcasses. One veterinarian suggested a virus could be one possible cause of death. Kathleen Smith said the deer all have the same pinkish colored foam oozing from their mouths or nostrils. None of these deer appeared to have any other trauma or wounds, according to Smith. As an animal lover, she said she is afraid more deer could lose their lives. “The one I found most recently, on her nose it was like somebody took this foam and put this pink shaving cream. Is somebody poisoning them, or is this a deer disease?” Smith said. Over the six or seven years that she has lived at her home, Smith said she has never found so many dead deer. One was below her deck, while another was right off of her front step. “I’ve lived here six or seven years and I have never seen this many die so close together. It makes me sad and it makes me concerned because could something transfer to livestock?” Smith said. “It’s been bothering me terribly.” Smith said she originally called animal control, but later learned the Californian Department of Fish and Game is responsible for investigating the deaths of wild animals. While Smith had not gotten in touch with the Department of Fish and Game as of Tuesday, Dr. Ben Gonzales, Senior Wildlife Veterinarian for the department, said it is possible the deer died from a virus. “It’s always difficult to diagnose from a distance,” Gonzales said. “My best guess at this point would be an infectious disease like deer adenovirus and it causes that sort of thing. They do tend to go down in groups like that.” Gonzales said that while anything was possible, the death of the deer was probably not related to a poisoning, “Anything is possible, but we get a lot of cases or reports of poisonings and it really rarely happens,” Gonzales said. “It doesn’t often pan out like that. That would be low on my list.” Gonzales said he hopes biologists in the field will be able to study the deer near Smith’s home soon. He said it is best to report dead wildlife immediately because it is easier to study the body. Smith said she hopes to get in touch with the Department of Fish and Game as soon as possible. While she doesn’t feed the deer, or doing anything special for them, Smith said she does enjoy watching them and doesn’t want anymore to die. “I see other young deer running around, but I’m not seeing any of the older deer,” Smith said. “I have seen the activity of the vultures, so I know it’s more than just the five I’ve seen.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. ______________________________________________________ What do you do if you find dead wildlife? Call the California Department of Fish and Game at (916) 358-2900.