Deer Warts or Tumors?

When deer hunters head out into the field they don’t usually think to themselves, “Man, I want to harvest a healthy deer.” But we all do, even though we don’t really think about it. So., what if you harvested a deer with warts? Most hunters would be a little concerned because, after all, warts are not normal on white-tailed deer.

Although injuries and diseases are some things hunters and property owners serious about deer management try to avoid having in their herds, it usually can not be avoided.

These “deer tumors”, which are more accurately wart-like growths, and are formally referred to as cutaneous fibromatosis. The virus that causes such growth on the skin can be transmitted between deer, at least experimentally.

Deer fibroma occurs occasionally in white-tailed deer living in North America. Although the ailment is not common, it not extremely rare either. The cutaneous growths can vary in diameter, but usually vary from about 1/4 inch to 4 inches in size.

These wart-like growths can be found growing by themselves or in clusters, typically on the front-end of an infected deer. The whitetail buck featured in the above photos has warts caused by cutaneous fibroma on the underside of his neck and face.

Although these tumor-looking growths are not believed to directly harm the deer, the presence of these warts could cause additional stress or points for additional injury on an animal.

From a hunting or deer management perspective there is little that can be done once a deer contracts fibroma. In some cases the infection may not even be noticeable, but as in the example above, the warts may be very obvious. The virus has been successfully spread under experimental conditions from deer to deer, but the chances of this happening in wild deer herds is unknown.

7 Replies to “Deer Warts or Tumors?”

  1. I got a doe that had a few worts on it front legs and I figured it would be alright. I skinned it up and came to find 5-6 tumors on the inside, so I decided that the deer was not going in the freezer.

  2. In order for deer to be infected with warts from another deer do they need to come in skin to skin contact with one another? Or could the virus be spread by eating from the same food bin? We have 5 deer that we feed in our yard and one has warts/tumors…..she is pretty much a loner as the others seem to arrive together and if she tries to join them at the feeder they chase her away…….so usually she stands back until they are finished then she comes and eats. These tumors are really unsightly!!

  3. Betty-Jean, I believe skin to skin contact could transfer the virus but only if both deer had open wounds at the point of contact. In my opinion, eating from the same receptacle is more likely transmit the virus because of the close proximity of deer and the ability of biting insects to transfer fluids from one animal to another. Also, any saliva from an infected deer could be taken up by an otherwise healthy deer and any abrasion in the oral cavity would be a site for transfer.

  4. My wife and I visited Blair House, a bed and breakfast outside of Wimberley, Texas. There are 5 deer that reside there, and they are protected there (private property). I noticed one of the deer has a tumor on the side of its jaw. Doesn’t look like a wart, more like an internal tumor, the kind you see on people who may have benign or cancerous tumors.

    The deer feeds with the others, and seems to be a member of a family. I think that if the tumor continues to grow it may impede the deer’s feeding. Since these deer are close to being tame, and have no real fear of humans they are like pets to the owners and those who visit. Is there anything that can be done for the deer that has the tumor? Could a veterinarian remove the tumor?

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