Mystery surrounding deer deaths in south-central Pennsylvania may have been solved

Deer cross a snow-covered field in Springfield Township Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. The county received its first significant snowfall of the winter on Saturday. Bill Kalina photo
  • Perhaps two dozen deer have died mysteriously in south-central Pennsylvania.
  • The Game Commission has reported those deaths may have been due to pneumonia.
  • The deer deaths occurred in the Powell's Valley area of upper Dauphin County.

The mystery surrounding the deaths of perhaps two dozen deer in south-central Pennsylvania may have been solved.

Preliminary test results have come back for three deer picked up in the Powell’s Valley area of upper Dauphin County, and all three had one or more types of pneumonia. Further testing to check for the presence of other diseases has not yet returned results.

But in any case, it appears pneumonia was present in the local herd and the smaller, weaker animals — characteristics of many of those that were reported dead — succumbed to the disease. The dehydration symptoms apparent in the deer initially examined by the Game Commission also could be attributed to pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a rare occurrence in deer, and the reasons it might have cropped up in the area are unknown.

Reports of dead and sickly deer in Powell’s Valley have tapered off in recent weeks, which could indicate the problem has been alleviated.

The Game Commission continues to encourage those in the area who see deer that appear to be sick or encounter deer that have died from unapparent causes to report them to the Southeast Region Office at (610) 926-3136.

Information for this story was supplied by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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