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Viral photos: Deer covered in large tumors in Minnesota

A photographer spotted the deer in southwest Minnesota.
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A deer in southwestern Minnesota has gained some viral steam in the outdoors community, after photos of it were shared by a photographer who happened to be in the right place at the right time. 

Julie Carrow snapped photos of a deer covered in what appear to be large warts or tumors, and the photos have been shared nearly 8,000 times on a popular group called Big Bone Outdoors. 

"I was out shooting a senior session in the northern section of Pipestone and this deer casually wandered past us," Carrow tells Bring Me The News. "He was grazing as he went by and did not appear in any distress nor did he appear malnourished. I couldn't see his eyes though."

Carrow says she saw the same deer previously during spring while she was at the Pipestone National Monument, where she was only able to capture a cellphone image of it. 

She sent the pictures to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and says she was contacted by Wildlife Research and Policy Manager Lou Cornicelli, who told her: "We don't see cases this bad that often and the pictures are fantastic." 

So what exactly is going on with the deer, and what are all the bumps?

The deer has a skin disease called fibromatosis, which is common for white-tailed deer, mule deer and black-tailed deer in North America. The bumps are skin tumors, called fibromas, which are the result of a virus. 

Generally, deer affected by the disease don't suffer anything more than cosmetic impacts, unless the location or size of the tumors restricts feeding or vision. Over time, the tumors tend to regress. 

Here's what the Minnesota DNR had to say:

These are called cutaneous fibromas, caused by papillomavirus.  Not new to MN for sure, as we get photos just about every year showing deer with fibromas.  They are like warts.  In time, they regress and fall off; however, in very extreme cases there can be complications. This deer has masses near/in the eyes; likely to be impacting its ability to see and the location of the masses are also near joints that can slow down its movement.  This is one of the worst cases of fibromas I have ever seen in a MN deer.  Could be an easy target for a coyote.  We will not interfere with nature in this case."

The disease cannot be spread to humans and an infected deer's meat is still safe to eat. 

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