Recently, a large deer mortality was detected in Sierra de Baza Natural Park. It began at the beginning of March and continued until April. The official data does not show that more than 100 deer have died. There are no signs of violence.
Management of Sierra de Baza Natural Park activated Andalusian Wildlife Epidemiological Survey Program. They are keeping an open investigation to find out what happened.
According to the Sierra de Baza Project Association information, the death coincides with the last heavy rains that were recorded in March.
The protocol was followed and three deer carcasses were sent to the Center for Analysis and Diagnosis of the Wild Fauna of Andalusia, which has its operational centre in Malaga to conduct a comprehensive study. This includes a necropsy and laboratory analysis of biological samples and viscera, such as blood and internal fluids to help determine the cause of the massive deer death.
Almudena Cano is the conservator director for the natural park. She explains that the cause of these deaths is unknown at this time. The official laboratory report is still pending and is expected to be complete by the end of this week.
According to the Sierra de Baza Project for its part, many pathologies, including brucellosis, scabies and blue tongue, have been ruled out. Oestrus ovis, a Diptera from the Oestridae Family, is also ruled out. Its larvae (worms), enter the nose to cause myiasis (ovine oestrosis) and then exit the body.
It is possible that it is not contagious. This has been proven by the fact that mortality has only affected deer and not domestic fauna (sheep, goats, etc.).
The Natural Park's north and middle have the highest concentrations of dead specimens. This is because it has had the most rain. However, the areas with the lowest number of corpses were found in the south and southeast (the Raposo or Charches), which have seen less rainfall.
The Sierra de Baza Project believes that at least 100 to 200 deer died during this spring episode, despite not having more precise data. This summer, a population census will be conducted on deer and more detailed information will be available.
One of the hypotheses is that the drought of last fall-winter has affected the health and vitality these animals. Also, they experienced intense and persistent rains throughout March, which was accompanied by a significant drop in temperatures. This led to snow in the Sierra de Baza.
This is not the first instance of this happening. There are also evidence of similar episodes in Zamora in the provinces of Alava and Los Alcornocales in Cadiz, where deer mass deaths were also common. Stress was the cause.