Most Viewed Stories
Deer die off puzzles wildlife officials
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are still trying to determine why 13 deer in the Camp Nelson area have shown up dead in the past three months.
Wildlife Biologist Evan King said so far officials have ruled out poisoning as the cause.
“We have experienced everything from young bucks to young fawns, with young fawns the most,” he said, adding that the fawns are “generally more susceptible” to illnesses. It has been two weeks since the last dead deer was found.
However, coming up with a cause has been difficult.
Long said all but one carcass was intact — it appear animals had gotten to one deer, and that with it being winter they were able to get good samples to test.
He said while the number is unusual, it is not so many as to cause great alarm.
“It’s significant enough that we are submitting samples to the lab,” he said, adding, “Rumors that people are poisoning deer are not true.”
The mule deer tend to live in and around the Camp Nelson area. King called them a residential herd in that they do not tend to migrate up and down the mountains.
“This herd typically stays in Camp Nelson year round,” said King. “They’re use to people, dogs, not pressured by natural factors.”
Sally Gabel, who lives in Camp Nelson and produces the Upper Tule News, said the deer hang out in the yards of residents. While they are not tame, they definitely enjoy the fruits of living among the residences.
She said people are concerned, although the talk in town has died down a bit.
“We don’t actually know yet what’s killing them off,” she said.
Gabel said she has lived in the Camp Nelson area since 1989 and visited it frequently since 1979, and she has never heard of so many dead deer showing up. The animals have been found throughout the area.
“This is the first time anything like this has happened,” said Gabel.
She pointed out something that is odd is it appears no other animals are touching the dead deer. “That’s one thing that’s really odd,” she said, pointing out that birds are usually the first to feed on dead animals.
This week, King was going to go to Camp Nelson to survey the herd and to try to get a count of how many are up there.
“We’re starting to think outside the box. We’re trying to think of the type of scenarios we haven’t tested for,” he said.
Assisting in the investigation is the game warden and even the sheriff’s office.
One theory is that exotic lice may be present, but King said that has not been confirmed and he doubted the lice could be causing the deaths. But, he said so far they have not ruled anything out.
“We’re continuing to investigate,” he said.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.