Heartbreaking photos of a deer, showing the poor creature’s whole body covered in strange lumps of overgrown body tissue, have recently surfaced on social media.
The medical condition that causes these tumors isn’t well known.
A woman named Julie Carrow found the deer in Pipestone, Minnesota about a month ago. She took some photographs of the animal in which it can be seen totally covered in odd-looking lesions spreading across its face, stomach, and neck.
Carrow, who’s a nurse by profession and a photographer by passion, said that the deer did not appear to be in pain despite being covered in warts.
“This deer casually wandered past us he did not appear in any distress or malnourished, though I couldn’t see his eyes,” she told a local news outlet.
Captioning the photographs on Facebook, she wrote: “This to me is just heartbreaking.”
“My hope is this disease can get some exposure to help the other deer to maybe cure or prevent this,” she later added.
The photos were shared to a Facebook group ‘Big Bone Outdoors’ where they soon went viral, accumulating around 1,500 reactions and 8,000 shares.
“Omg. Yikes. I have never seen that before,” read a comment on the photo.
To play her part as a responsible citizen, Carrow contacted the Department of Natural Resources and showed them the photos of the poor animal.
The specialists at the department identified the deer’s condition as an extreme example of fibromatosis.
The DNR said that warts seen on the skin of the deer were fibromas, which are usually found in white-tailed deer and some other related species.
Michelle Carstensen, from the Department of Natural Resources, told a local news agency that it was the worst case of fibromatosis she had ever seen in her 15-year career in the field of wildlife.
She speculated that the growths around the deer’s eyes can lead to visionary impairment, making it difficult for it to escape predators.
“It’s possible these will regress and he’ll survive this, but it’s also possible he becomes an easy prey item in the meantime,” Carstensen said.
Fibromatosis is explained on the Department of Natural Resources’ website as “randomly distributed” on the body of deer but more probable to occur around the forelegs, face, neck and eye area.
The condition, caused by virus papillomavirus (known as HPV in Humans), can even be fatal to deer. The disease can also affect humans and domestic animals in some cases.
Describing the disease, the website says: “Its main significance lies in the consternation and concern experienced by the hunter who shoots a deer covered with ugly-looking lumps.
Though they don’t harm the meat, fibromas are repulsive to most persons and therefore render a fine trophy aesthetically undesirable.”