In certain cases, dead wild animals may be submitted to New York State Wildlife Health Program for examination and diagnosis.
Types of Cases to Report
The following cases are of interest to the Wildlife Health Program and other DEC programs:
- Deer exhibiting neurologic signs and/or are thin or are found dead and appear to be thin. Any live or dead deer with ear tags or any live or dead elk, Sika, or Fallow deer. Any dead moose including road-kills.
- All bald or golden eagles and peregrine falcons. Other raptors found dead of unknown cause.
- Loons, swans, ravens, or avian vagrants.
- Wildlife of special interest or marked/tagged specimens (e.g. endangered/threatened animals; research study animals) regardless if the cause of death appears obvious.
- Bobcat, otter, fisher, weasels, and mink.
- Any mass mortality or recurring mortality of any species.
- More than a single animal found dead in a small area or short period of time.
- All reptiles, salamanders, and frogs.
- Exotic or captive species.
- Exception: Animals suspected of being rabid (including all bats found indoors where human contact may have occurred), and for which a significant exposure (bite, scratch, contact with saliva or nervous tissue) to humans has occurred should be reported directly to local county or municipal health departments.
Who to Contact
Notify a DEC Regional Wildlife Office near you to determine what actions, if any, are necessary for submission or disposal of the wildlife in question. If assistance from the Regional Wildlife Office is not available, contact the Wildlife Health Unit directly at (518) 478-2203 or [email protected]. For removal of dead animals suspected of being hit by a vehicle, please contact the highway department responsible for maintaining the road.
Submission of Animals for Examination
If DEC determines that examination is desirable, Regional Wildlife staff will collect the animal(s) and arrange for delivery. If collection is delayed for more than 6 hours, place the carcass in a cool location or on ice. If for some reason staff is unable to assist in the submission process, direct submission to the WHU may be an option. For advice, contact the Wildlife Health Unit at (518) 478-2203 weekdays between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM or email [email protected].
Submitting Specimen(s) Documentation
Complete the Online Specimen Submission Form. Choose NYSDEC in the first drop down menu and print a copy to submit with the carcass.
Important information to include:
- The name, phone number (including area code), e-mail address, and mailing address of the person who found and reported the animal.
- Detailed history/event information relevant to the submission (i.e. found alive, struggling to stand, wings drooping, head tilt, found in water, found after snowstorm, etc.)
- Any identification number(s) related to the specimen (band number, vet ID number, etc.)
- Description of euthanasia technique, if applicable.
- Any details related to human or domestic animal contact with the specimen.
- Your appraisal of the situation and/or any testing requests beyond determining cause of death.
- Complete contact information for the submitter (please do not just write Region X Wildlife" or "Wildlife Rehab").
- Photos or videos of the specimen and site are useful in assessing circumstance of a die off.
- GPS coordinates (Lat/Long in decimal degrees), street address, distance and direction from.
Please do not submit specimens directly to the lab without first getting approval from WHU staff.
Handling Dead Animals
Dead wildlife can be a health threat to people and other animals. If professional assistance is unavailable or delayed, the following general guidance is offered:
- Be sure the animal is dead before touching or getting too close.
- Avoid direct contact with the carcass or carcass fluids.
- Be careful of teeth, claws, bone splinters, or porcupine quills.
- Prevent exposure to pets or farm animals.
- If packaging is necessary, enclose in multiple plastic bags and close bags securely.
- Small animals (squirrel or crow-sized and smaller) can be packaged simply by inserting one or both hands in a bag, grasping the carcass, and enfolding the bag around it.
- For larger animals, or for carcasses that have been compromised by extensive trauma, decay, or maggot infestation, insert the bag into a can/pail/bucket, then use a shovel to deposit the animal into the bag-lined container.
- If examination by the WHU is likely, place the bagged carcass in a cool location or on ice.
- Disinfect implements used in moving carcasses with a 10% bleach solution (see procedures below).
Contact DEC's WHU directly at [email protected] if substantial delays are expected, or if you have additional questions.
If there is no reason for submission and you would like to dispose of a carcass for sanitary or esthetic reasons, four options exist:
- Burial in a location that will protect both surface water and ground water from contamination.
- Keep at least 200 feet away from wells used to supply drinking water.
- Be sure the carcass is covered with at least 2 feet of soil.
- Triple bag carcass and dispose of in a landfill.
- In rural or suburban areas move carcass to an un-mowed, brushy or wooded area at edge of your property for natural decomposition (may be unsuitable if close to neighbors). Area should be inaccessible to children or domestic animals.
- You can have a NWCO (Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator) Licensed Company come out for a fee and remove the wildlife for you.
In case of exposure or contamination:
- Skin: Wash skin thoroughly with hot water and soap. Consult your physician if you have sustained an injury (a bite, scratch, or puncture).
- Tools, Instruments, Hard Surfaces: Immerse or flood items with a 10% chlorine bleach solution (1 part household bleach, 9 parts water). Let stand for 10 minutes. Scrub and rinse thoroughly.
- Clothing: Pre-soak clothing in a 5% chlorine bleach solution (1 part bleach, 19 parts water) for 10 minutes and then wash with hot water and laundry detergent. To avoid damage to colors or fabrics, other household disinfectant products may be used, although many of these are less effective than chlorine bleach.
Note: Many pathogens are inactivated by heat, drying, and sunlight.