Department of Environmental Conservation

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Reporting Dead Wildlife

In certain cases, dead wild animals may be submitted to DEC's Wildlife Health Unit (WHU) at the Wildlife Resources Center in Delmar for examination and diagnosis.

Types of Cases to Report

The following cases are of interest to the WHU 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.
  • Wildlife of special interest or marked/tagged specimens (e.g. endangered/threatened animals; research study animals) regardless if the cause of death appears obvious.
  • Any mass mortality or recurring mortality of any 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, call the WHU directly at (518) 478-2203. 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 Office staff will collect the animal(s) and arrange for delivery. If for some reason staff is unable to assist in the submission process, direct submission to the WHU may be an option. For advice, call DEC's WHU at (518) 478-2203 between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM.

Submitting Specimen(s) Documentation

Complete the Online Specimen Submission Form (link leaves DEC website). Choose NYSDEC in the first drop down menu and print a copy to submit with the carcass. 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 (518) 478-2203 if substantial delays are expected, or if you have additional questions.

Carcass Disposal

If there is no reason for submission and you would like to dispose of a carcass for sanitary or esthetic reasons, three 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.

Disinfection Procedures

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.