SAMUEL: Taking a look at eating venison, pesticides in deer and other subjects


Buying venison in Germany

Hunters cannot sell wild game meat in the United States, but it’s legal in Europe. However, hunting is much more limited there then it is here, so for many, the only way to get wild game is by purchasing it. A new app titled “Forest Meat” is now available and it connects hunters with consumers of wild meat. The app is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics, and 1,000 qualified hunter’s registered as suppliers in the Lower Saxony region of Germany. Do non-hunters want wild game? Apparently, because more than 20,000 users installed the app within three months of release. I doubt that it would work that well in West Virginia because there are so many hunters with venison, and many share their meat with friends at no cost.


The August 20 deer blog talks about neonics. When I read that, I had no idea what neonics were, so I did some research.

Neonics refers to the most widely class of insecticides in the world. Literally all the corn, wheat, cotton, and soybeans grown in North America are treated with a neonic.

They are insect specific and have a low toxicity to mammals and birds (meaning they don’t directly kill birds or mammals, but there are negative affects). If they don’t directly kill birds or mammals, what’s the problem? The problem is they accumulate in water, are absorbed by plants and persist in soils. Deer eat or drink all these things. But do neonics cause problems for deer?

They do and it started in the 1990’s a few years after neonics became popular with farmers. A paper published in 2011 looked at deer that died by accident or natural causes in the 1990’s in Montana.

Many were found to have brachygnathia superior, caused by hypothyroidism. Brachygnathia is an underbite that occurs in deer and other wild and domestic animals.

There were 1061 deer examined. Of the deer sampled prior to 1995, none had the disease. From 2001 to 2010 half of 519 had an underbite. So the disease appeared rather suddenly right after the neonics became very popular.

 This doesn’t prove that neonics were the cause, but it sure quacks like a duck. Back in the early 2000’s a friend of mine bow killed a good buck in eastern Ohio and it had an underbite. He watched it for several years. It got down on its forelegs and tilted its head in order to eat. Finally when it was 4 1/2 years old, he got a bow shot on the deer. Another friend killed one last year in Pennsylvania, but it appears to be much more common in the western agriculture regions.

Poaching bushmeat soars in Kenya

People are hungry in much of rural Africa, so poaching is common. However, you poach with much more severe consequences than in the states. Three poachers were captured in Kenya with 1,314 pounds of bushmeat. Each was given 16 years in prison and fined $20,300. The courts there act faster than our courts do. They went to jail two weeks after being arrested.

Tick bites are very serious

I’ve written a lot about the need to be careful when outdoors. Even in cold months we have the chance to get ticks on us and it seems like there is a new diseases every year from a deer tick bite.

A 70-year old man went to the emergency room suffering from fever, ankle swelling and nausea. He noted some kind of insect bit him while he traveled in the Northeast one month prior.

His leg pain was bad and he had trouble walking. Further hospital studies showed he had kidney injury and anemia. This guy was very sick. The doctors suspected a tick bite and sure enough he had not one tick disease, but three; Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis.

The black-legged tick can carry all three so that is probably what bit him.

They treated him with doxycycline, atovaquone and azithromycin, and those eliminated his problems.

 It turns out that Lyme disease and anaplasmosis are treated with doxycycline, but babesiosis requires anti-parasitic and anti-fungal treatments. Had the doctors just treated him for the first two diseases, he would have remained very ill. Luckily these doctors recognized that there were high numbers of ticks in the area and checked for tick diseases.

Dr. Samuel is a retired wildlife professor from West Virginia University. His outdoor columns have appeared, and continue to appear, in Bowhunter magazine and the Whitetail Journal. If you have questions or comments on wildlife and conservation issues, email him at