How do Deer Get Tumors?

Whitetail Deer with Warts (Firbroma)

Whitetail hunters sometimes encounter deer with warts or lumps on the skin. These bumps do not hurt the deer since they are usually non-cancerous tumors called either fibromas or papillomas. In both cases, the warts or tumors are caused by viruses. The difference between the two is that fibromas grow either from the skin or from the layer beneath, while papillomas grow only from the skin.

To a hunter, both lumps will look dark-colored and hard to the touch. These external warts generally do not cause problems for afflicted animal, but they are not pretty to look at. Deer hunters often think the meat is inedible because of these tumors, but that is not the case. Since lumps are usually found only in the skin, not in the muscles, there is generally no problem.

However, there could be tumors located inside a deer’s body, such as on it’s organs, that could be cancerous and the venison should be discarded. While whitetail hunting, do not be overly alarmed if you come across an animal with external tumors because they are not uncommon.

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