Reporting Sick or Dead Wildlife


Wildlife disease surveillance, prevention, and control are crucial factors for safeguarding Delaware’s citizens, wildlife, pets, and livestock. Citizen reports help state biologists monitor wildlife populations in Delaware.

If you see sick wildlife, or dead wildlife where it looks like the cause of death is an illness, please report it to the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife. If you see five or more sick or dead wild animals at the same location, please also call division staff at 302-735-3600 (Ext. 2).

Note: the division does not have the staff or resources to respond to every report of injured or distressed wildlife. It does not rehabilitate wildlife. The state issues permits to trained volunteers with experience rehabilitating wildlife and returning native animals to the wild. If you need a wildlife rehabilitator, please contact the Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators.

Which Animals to Report

For these reports, wildlife includes birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Please do not report sick or dead pets, livestock or aquatic species such as fish or crabs.

If you see five or more sick or dead fish, please make a fish kill report to the DNREC Fisheries Section.

For animal health emergencies involving livestock or poultry, contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 (after hours 302-233-1480).

Please be Careful

Do not handle sick or dead wildlife to avoid exposure to illness. If you have to do so, please use protective gear, such as gloves, and wash your hands with soap and water immediately afterward. If you have handled sick or dead wildlife without gloves or protection, please contact your health care provider to assess your risk of developing the disease.

If you think you have been bitten by, scratched by or encountered a wild animal or feral cat or dog that may be rabid, you should immediately contact your health care provider or call the Division of Public Health Rabies Program, at 302-744-4995 .

If your pet or livestock has been bitten, contact your private veterinarian to have your pet examined and treated. And please report the exposure to the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Wildlife Diseases Monitored in Delaware

Avian Influenza

Avian influenza (AI), commonly known as “bird flu,” is a respiratory disease of birds caused by an influenza Type A virus. These viruses can infect poultry (chickens, ducks, quail, pheasants, guinea fowl and turkeys) and some wild bird species (such as ducks, swans, geese, shorebirds, hawks and owls) but are known to impact poultry and wild birds in different ways.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) spreads rapidly, typically through migratory birds, and is fatal to chickens and turkeys. The migratory birds that typically spread highly pathogenic avian influenza are generally far less affected by the virus. There is minimal risk to public health, and there have been no human cases of HPAI detected in the United States.

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) typically causes minor sickness or no noticeable signs of disease and rarely fatal in birds. There have been four laboratory-confirmed cases of LPAI A (H7N2) virus infection in people in the United States.

Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease is a disease of the brain and nervous system in members of the Cervidae family (deer, elk or moose). It has not been found in Delaware but has been found in more than half the states and several Canadian provinces. State wildlife officials are taking steps to avoid its spread into Delaware.

White Nose Syndrome

White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease that causes mass die-offs of bats at hibernation sites, with mortality rates of 90 to 100% at some locations. It was confirmed in the United States in 2006 and in Delaware in 2012. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 5.6 to 6.7 million bats died from WNS in the first seven years.

Avian Mortality Event

In 2021, a mysterious illness and mortality event affecting songbirds occurred throughout the mid-Atlantic region, spurring a temporary advisory to discontinue the use of bird feeders and baths. Although this mortality event ended, submitted reports at this webpage would help us determine if the illness returned or help us identify other wildlife disease events.

rabies

Rabies is a fatal yet preventable viral disease found in mammals. It is primarily spread through the bite of an infected animal; however, it can also be transmitted through scratches or open wounds exposed to saliva or brain/nervous system tissue of an infected animal. All mammals can get rabies; however, the primary reservoirs in Delaware are raccoons, cats, foxes, bats and skunks. An animal infected with rabies can transmit the virus for up to ten days before displaying symptoms.

Leave a Comment