NEWTON CO. — Dozens of deer were confirmed to have "high parasite loads" at the time of their death in northwestern Indiana, the Indiana DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife announced on Wednesday.
About 40 wild white-tailed deer were found dead from late February to early March after heavy snow had melted on private property in Newton County.
An investigation ensued after the discovery at the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab at Purdue University. Lab results found the presence of parasites known as lungworm, according to Moriah Boggess, a deer biologist for the Indiana DNR.
Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm that lives in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs.
Boggess says this is a common occurrence throughout "the range of the white-tailed deer species."
"It is likely that high parasite loads, combined with heavy snowfall, poor nutrition, and a prolonged cold snap in mid-February were contributing factors to the deer deaths," a statement from Indiana DNR read.
A fatal, contagious, and neurological disease known as "chronic wasting disease" was not detected in the deer sampled, however, the DNR says.
Boggess also added that the deer may have died days or weeks before their bodies were discovered.
Meat from animals known or suspected to be ill should not be consumed, the DNR reminds Hoosiers.
Those who see sick or dead wildlife in Indiana are asked to report it to on.IN.gov.