Wildlife disease surveillance, prevention, and control are critical factors in protecting Delaware citizens, wildlife, pets, and livestock. Citizen reports help state biologists monitor wildlife populations in Delaware.
If you see sick or dead wildlife when the cause of death appears to be disease, report it to the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife. If you see five or more sick or dead wildlife in the same location, also call division staff at 302-735-3600 (Ext. 2).
Note: the division does not have the staff or resources to respond to all reports of injured or distressed wildlife. Does not rehabilitate wildlife. The state issues permits to trained volunteers with experience in wildlife rehabilitation and returning native animals to the wild. If you need a wildlife rehabilitator, please contact the Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators.
What animals to report
For these reports, wildlife includes birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Please do not report sick or dead pets, livestock, or aquatic species such as fish or crabs.
If you see five or more sick or dead fish, report the fish kill to the DNREC Fisheries Section.
For animal health emergencies involving livestock or poultry, contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Animal and Poultry Health Section at 302-698-4500 (after hours 302-233-1480).
Please Be Careful
Do not handle sick or dead wild animals to avoid exposure to disease. If you have to, wear protective gear, such as gloves, and wash your hands with soap and water right afterward. If you have handled sick or dead wild animals without gloves or protection, contact your health care provider to assess your risk of developing the disease.
If you think you have been bitten, scratched, or found by a wild animal or a wild cat or dog that may have rabies, you should immediately contact your health care provider or call the Rabies Public Health Program Division at 302 -744-4995 .
If your pet or livestock has been bitten, contact your private veterinarian to have your pet examined and treated. And report the exposure to the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Wildlife Diseases Monitored in Delaware
Avian influenza (AI), commonly known as “bird flu,” is a respiratory disease of birds caused by an influenza type A virus. These viruses can infect poultry (chickens, ducks, quail, pheasants, guinea fowl, and turkeys). ) and some species of wild birds (such as ducks, swans, geese, shorebirds, hawks, and owls), but are known to affect poultry and wild birds in different ways. ways.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) spreads rapidly, usually through migratory birds, and is fatal to chickens and turkeys. Migratory birds that commonly spread highly pathogenic avian influenza are generally much less affected by the virus. There is minimal risk to public health and no human cases of HPAI have been detected in the United States.
Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) usually causes minor illness or no noticeable signs of illness and is rarely fatal in birds. There have been four laboratory-confirmed cases of LPAI A(H7N2) virus infection in people in the United States.
chronic debilitating disease
Chronic cachexia is a disease of the brain and nervous system in members of the family Cervidae (deer, elk, or elk). It has not been found in Delaware, but has been found in more than half the states and several Canadian provinces. State wildlife officials are taking steps to prevent its spread to Delaware.
white nose syndrome
White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease that causes mass deaths of bats in overwintering sites, with mortality rates of 90-100% in some locations. It was confirmed in the United States in 2006 and in Delaware in 2012. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that between 5.6 and 6.7 million bats were killed by WNS in the first seven years.
Avian mortality event
In 2021, a mysterious disease and mortality event affecting songbirds occurred throughout the mid-Atlantic region, prompting a temporary advisory to suspend the use of bird feeders and birdbaths. Although this mortality event has ended, the reports presented on this webpage would help us determine if the disease has returned or help us identify other wildlife disease events.
Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease found in mammals. It is spread primarily through the bite of an infected animal; however, it can also be transmitted through scratches or open wounds exposed to saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal. All mammals can get rabies; however, the main reservoirs in Delaware are raccoons, cats, foxes, bats, and skunks. An animal infected with rabies can transmit the virus for up to ten days before showing symptoms.