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What made this roe deer poorly ?


In February my dad was out walking in Fallen Tree Wood by himself. He was watching some roe deer when he saw this doe. When dad first saw it he thought it was eating something because she had something in her mouth. But then he looked through his binoculars and saw it was foam coming out of her mouth.

The deer was acting strangely. It was rubbing its head against a tree like it had an itch. It was by itself, which was strange, because roe deer are usually in a group of three or more. The eyes were bulging, and it didn't seem scared of humans and came close. On one side, the fur looked sticky or dirty. My dad took these photographs until the deer ran off, and when he got home he tried to work out what was wrong with it.

Because deer live close together, if one deer gets a disease, the other deer might catch it too. The gamekeeper thinks there are about 40 deer living near Fallen Tree Wood in a herd, so my dad was worried all the deer might catch it.

First of all, he looked at the Best Practice Guide for wild deer but the only disease that he could see that caused foaming at the mouth was CWD, which don't get in this country, and deer with CWD look skinny because they don't eat. This deer looked about normal weight. Then he looked on the internet but couldn't find any other diseases, so he emailed the Deer Commission for Scotland.

Then the man at the Deer Commission phoned my dad because he didn't know what it was either. But the man asked a vet, and that vet said the deer might have eaten a poisonous plant or one that had alkalis in it. When the alkalis went into the deers tummy, it would have got all fizzy, like when I made a model volcano and put vinegar and bicarbonate of soda in it to make it erupt. The vet thought that the deer might have had to eat something that it didn't normally eat because the snow had covered up its normal food.

This is the plant that my dad thought might have caused it. It is a rhododendron, and there are loads of these bushes in the Secret Lake Woods, which are next to Fallen Tree Wood. But then he looked on the internet, and there are loads of stories about deer eating rhododendron leaves without getting sick, so maybe it was something else.

A few weeks ago, me and dad explored Fallen Tree Wood. We went to the same spot and explored around it, but didn't see any dead deer or any deer that looked poorly, so maybe that deer got better. I hope she got better and is still living in the wood.

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