Parasites and Diseases

A Field Guide


broken ribs
Broken ribs due to injury.

What causes injuries?
  • Injuries are quite common in wild animals.
  • Animals can often survive even with bad injuries such as broken bones.
  • There are four major causes of injuries in wild animals:
         vehicle collisions,
         gunshot wounds,
         fighting with other animals of the same species,

What are the signs of injuries?

  • Most animals hit by vehicles are killed immediately, although some may survive.

Gunshot Wounds:
  • Most animals that are wounded during hunting die from their wounds. Animals with “old” gunshot wounds are not often seen.
  • Gunshot wounds, particularly those from low caliber weapons, may be difficult to see through the animal’s hair. They are more visible on the flesh side of the hide.

Fighting within a species:
  • Serious injuries caused by fighting between animals of the same species are uncommon. Occasionally, dead animals are found with gore wounds (e.g., bison) or bite wounds (e.g., wolves) on the throat and neck.

Conflict between species (predation):
  • Wounds are usually found on the hind legs, neck and head and sometimes on the flank.
  • There is usually a lot of blood that collects under the skin and extends for some distance in one direction from the wound.
  • Teeth marks may not go all the way through the hide but there is usually a bruise or bleeding in the skin at the site.
  • The animal may also have had a disease that allowed it to be more easily killed by a predator.
  • Predators may also be injured while hunting for food. Wolves have been found with healed broken ribs and cracked skulls that they probably got when attacking large animals, such as moose.

Can I eat the meat?
  • Unless some other condition is present, meat from affected animals is suitable for human consumption.
  • Any of these injuries might reduce meat quality.

Samples to collect
  • Portions of affected tissues.
  • To report an occurrence or to submit a sample for identification/analysis, contact the DWC Wildlife Disease Surveillance reporting hotline 907-328-8354, send an email to or visit your local ADF&G office.