“What’s wrong with this deer?” That may be the first question that pops into your mind when you come across and injured deer. The next question is, “What to do?” Deer are remarkably tough animals that can endure extreme injuries and bounce back. But now always. Like any wild animal, offering assistance to whitetail deer can be difficult, often causing death from “capture” myopathy.
Source: “This syndrome often develops after restraint of wild animals. Affected animals may die acutely from lactic acidosis or may live several days and show muscular stiffness or become recumbent. Severe skeletal muscle lesions with myocardial necrosis and myoglobinuric nephrosis may be present. Careful handling and reduction of stress are useful; IV fluids and sodium bicarbonate may help. If the animals are from areas considered to be deficient in selenium, the condition may be an exercise-induced myopathy that is responsive to selenium or vitamin E.”
The buck in the above photo is definitely a hurt or injured deer. In fact, it looks like this buck has an old injury to the carpus (hand-forearm area), perhaps from a fracture or luxation (dislocation) from tangle with a fence, a deer hunting event or even another buck during a fight. The shoulder and antebrachium appear atrophied (wasting away) as well. This buck, when seen in person, would appear quite sick and lame.
The best thing a person can do after they find a sick or hurt deer is to contact the state wildlife department. They have biologists on staff that can make an assessment of the deer and determine if the injury is short-lived or life-threatening. However, do not expect for all animals to be wisked away to a wildlife recovery room. Many deer will not survive the capture and handling, especially old-aged deer or when temperatures are warm. Many state wildlife agencies do maintain a list of certified wildlife rehabilitators, so if the injured deer can be saved, they will know what to do.