The animal is said to be suffering from a skin disease called fibromatosis, which is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) common among humans and usually comes very harmless, goes away by itself, or sometimes leads to cancer and genital warts.
In the images, captured by Julie Carrow, a US photographer, on July 25, the animal is seen grazing in an open field with big tumors overrunning its frontal section and spreading all the way through its left and right flanks.
According to Carrow, the deer had been covered in the growths — so rare and many — that she couldn’t see its face, yet, it “did not appear to be any distress or malnourished.”
“This deer casually wandered past us. He did not appear in any distress or malnourished, though I couldn’t see his eyes,” she told CityPages.
The pictures, which were shared by the Big Bone Outdoors Facebook group and reshared by more than 7,000 people, caused a stir among users, with many suggesting that the creature be caught by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and put out of its misery.
“I saw him or her this spring. It crossed Hiawatha when I was going south from Good Sam. DNR should catch it, find out what it has, and treat it so it doesn’t spread to other deer,” said Gen Lustfield.
The DNR, however, issued a statement in response to the complaints, saying it won’t be taking any action as the appearance makes the deer less likely to be killed by a human for meat.
“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,” a DNR spokesperson said.
“We will not interfere with nature in this case. Its main significance lies in the consternation and concern experienced by the hunter who shoots a deer covered with ugly-looking lumps.”
According to Michigan DNR, the viral infection is not a major deer killer and doesn’t infect humans or other animals.