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Deer FAQs

I killed a deer recently that had big wart-looking growths on its shoulders. What are they, and is it OK to eat the meat?

The technical term for the growths are cutaneous fibromas, although they are commonly known as warts in people. Cutaneous fibromas are black or gray hairless tumors found on the skin of white-tailed deer. They range from marble-sized to as big as a softball. Often appearing in clumps, they are not usually a serious health concern for individual deer, except in rare cases where they interfere with vision or eating. This condition does not adversely affect deer population levels.

Fibromas are caused by a virus specific to deer that is spread by biting insects and possibly direct contact, though not transmissible to other species or humans. Most of the time, it is safe to eat the meat as the tumors only involve the skin. You should discard any carcass with large fibromas that look like they have been injured and become infected since secondary infections are possible.

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