Each of these diseases can be passed from animal to animal and spreads more quickly when animals are congregated at wildlife feeders or other artificial feeding sites.
CWD – Chronic Wasting Disease is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that affects deer and elk. This always-fatal disease attacks the animal's brain and causes loss of normal bodily functions. The disease is similar to Mad Cow disease in cattle. CWD can remain infectious in the environment for years, and there is no cure. Deer infected with CWD have been found in numerous locations in Pennsylvania. Learn more.
Mange is a contagious skin condition caused by burrowing mites that affects wildlife worldwide. In some cases, mange can be fatal, debilitating an infected bear through hair loss, damaged skin, secondary bacterial infections, and starvation. Mange in Pennsylvania black bears has progressively increased in frequency and distribution, and is causing concern as cases expand into other Mid-Atlantic states. Wildlife feeding is believed to contribute to the spread of mange by facilitating contact with infected bears or contaminated objects rubbed by infected bears. Learn more.
Bovine tuberculosis is a bacterial disease of the respiratory system. The disease can be fatal to white-tailed deer, elk, black bear, bobcat, coyote, opossum, raccoon and fox, as well as domestic livestock. At present, there have been no confirmed cases of bovine tuberculosis in Pennsylvania's wildlife, but it has been diagnosed in wildlife populations in other states. Learn more.
Lactic acidosis or grain overload is a metabolic disease associated with feeding of deer and elk. Lactic acidosis is the fatal disruption of the body's acid-base balance in the rumen caused by eating foods for which the rumen is not currently adapted, such as corn in winter. Animal deaths due to lactic acidosis are documented annually in Pennsylvania.
Foundering – High carbohydrate foods like corn can also cause foundering – a condition of the hoof related to disruption of the acid-base balance in the rumen. Pain in the growth plate of the hoof causes an irregular step and hooves grow much longer due to atypical contact with the ground. This condition has been documented in Pennsylvania.
Aflatoxicosis is a condition where toxins produced by fungi on spoiled feed, particularly grains, cause mortality to animals including wild turkeys.
Hair loss in deer is a newly emerging disease syndrome. Mild to marked hair loss and soft tissue inflammation of the muzzle are two newly-recognized conditions associated with feeding. The cause of the hair loss syndrome is unknown, but many parasitic, infectious, and toxic causes have been considered. Soft tissue inflammation of the muzzle is a kind of bacterial infection not previously seen in white-tailed deer.