Info Agency Main Banner Content
- Lead Bullet Fragmentation
- Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB)
- Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
- Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD)
- Report a Dead or Sick Deer
- Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) amended order (APHIS)
- VHS susceptible species
- VHS - Attention Anglers!
- Other Fish diseases and parasites
Other mammal diseases
- U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center
- U.S. Department of Agriculture program
- Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance
- Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance and Management
- TB FAQ Sheet
- More info at Indiana Board of Animal Health
While field dressing your deer, look for white, pearl-like sores (lesions) on internal organs or inside of the carcass. In the unlikely event you see lesions, exercise caution in handling the animal.
Do not proceed with further processing of the carcass before contacting the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) to speak to a staff veterinarian. Refrigerate (or ice down) the carcass if possible.
Keep the animal, including the head, intact until examined. Taking digital photos of the unusual lesions or organs that can be texted or emailed, upon request, can be helpful to determining the status of animal.
To contact a BOAH veterinarian, call 1-877-747-3038 (toll free). This number is answered Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Messages left on weekends or holidays will be returned as soon as possible. A veterinarian will advise you, free-of-charge, about the appropriate use of the animal and may collect tissue samples for further testing.
By reporting any suspicious lesion, you are helping to protect the health status of Indiana’s white-tailed deer resource.
If BOAH or DNR collect the carcass for further testing, the DNR will note that the deer that was harvested was taken for testing and your existing license can be used for the harvest of another deer. (The BOAH veterinarian will refer you to DNR; DNR staff have access to the harvest reporting and hunting license systems.)
After field dressing or handling any carcass or other raw meat, wash your hands with soap and water. Hand washing removes disease-causing bacteria, including tuberculosis. This practice should always be followed, even if the animal appears healthy.
For more information on Indiana's deer TB monitoring program, contact the Board of Animal Health:
Indiana State Board of Animal Health
Discovery Hall, Suite 100
1202 E. 38th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46205-2898
Phone: (317) 544-2400
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Read about humans and bovine tuberculosis on the Indiana State Department of Health's website.
Lead Bullet Fragmentation Information
Fragmenting by lead bullets has been a hot topic in recent years following research out of North Dakota and Minnesota that found lead bullet fragments in deer meat at food pantries. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a follow up study confirming a link between lead levels and wild game consumption. Lead is a toxic substance, and exposure may pose health risks to hunters and their families, especially children and pregnant women.
Previous research has focused on ammunition from high-velocity center fire rifles, which are prohibited for deer hunting in Indiana. The Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) recently conducted a study on whether fragmentation was a concern for deer hunters given their most popular ammunition choices: rifled slugs, sabot slugs, and conical in-line muzzleloader bullet.
The DFW found evidence of fragmentation in each of the 43 deer sampled. The muzzleloader bullets had the most fragments and the greatest average distance traveled by fragments from the exit wound. The average distance a fragment traveled was typically between 1 and 2 ½ inches, though the furthest traveled just over 8 inches from the exit wound. Simply gutting the deer often removed 45-57% of the total fragments.
- Fragmenting in shotgun and in-line muzzleloader ammunition exists but is minimal. The DFW does not see a need to ban lead ammunition for deer hunting.
- Fragments were greatest when bullets struck a front shoulder vs. a vital shot (heart/lungs). Fragmentation can extend to both shoulders in the case of a shoulder shot.
- Non-toxic alternatives are available, and the DFW encourages hunters to consider using one of these substitutes if lead exposure is a concern for your family.
- Hunters should consider liberally trimming their meat (at least 2 inches from both the entrance and exit wounds and possibly up to 8 inches from the exit wound) if lead exposure is a concern, or consider sacrificing the shoulder meat if the shoulder is struck.