Hunters report mysterious deer deaths


Dauphin County hunters say they know of at least 21 deer that dropped dead in Carsonville. Other Midstaters are adding to that tally on Facebook.

“Are these deer safe to eat? We’ve got a lot of people that show up to this valley during hunting season and a lot of people that depend on venison to eat, and we don’t know what’s causing this,” said Dennis Morgan, who lives in near Carsonville, in Jefferson Township. 

Morgan first found a dying fawn that couldn’t control its legs the first week of the rifle deer season. He didn’t think much of it until he found three more the next week. 

“After the season ended, we started going out walking our properties a little more thorough, and we’re up to 21 deer found dead, in their beds, rolled up, no holes, no broken bones, nowhere near water like a normal injured deer will go,” Morgan said.

Morgan says about half of these deer showed strange symptoms hours before dropping dead. 

Some wouldn’t get up. Others walked sideways.

Morgan’s Facebook post about the issue got hundreds of shares. 

People in surrounding areas like Elizabethville and Millersburg said they found dying deer with the same symptoms. 

“We do like to hunt but we also like conservation, making sure there’s a healthy population, and 21 deer that we know of could mean – we don’t know how many that we haven’t found yet,” said Morgan.

Morgan gave a deer to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for a toxicology report and is awaiting results.

The commission’s southeast region says it has an officer assigned to this, but it only has reports of five dead deer, which looked small and born late in the season.

Morgan’s friends and family are putting a pause on hunting.

“We told our group that we’re going to cease hunting,” said Morgan. “We’re not going to go out to kill something to kill it. We don’t know if it’s safe to eat, so at this point, there’s no reason to take an animal. With that said, we’ve already processed most of our deer for the year and it has been ingested.”

The game commission says hunters should take the same safety precautions they always would: only eat deer that look healthy.

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