Why Do Fawns Have Growths on their Necks and Chins?

A healthy mule deer fawn (Photo courtesy of UDWR)

Question: Many of the fawns I am currently seeing here in Santa Barbara County appear to have growths or swelling on their necks or chin about the size of a baseball. I’ve seen this over the last several years. What’s up? (Larry F., Solvang)

Answer: According to DFG Veterinarian Dr. Ben Gonzales, deer can have multiple lumps due to cutaneous tumors (aka papillomatosis or fibromas) which are thought to be induced by viruses.

The location you describe of these lumps makes him think they are more likely jaw abscesses which can develop from a broken tooth, or more likely from the migration of grass awns or foxtails. Foxtails migrate forward and find the path of least resistance. The body tries to fight this foreign body by delivering white cells (neutrophils), which collect, die and form pus-filled abscesses. The abscesses also find the path of least resistance between tissue layers and thus can end up on the upper neck. Since this is the time of year when foxtails are dry and are easily picked up and ingested during feeding, my best educated guess is that you’re seeing foxtail-induced abscesses.

Trapping tree squirrels
Question: My cat often hunts and kills squirrels, then brings them home and eats them on the porch. I’d like to reduce the number of “prizes” my cat brings home for me, so what kind of license do I need to trap the tree squirrels, and what types of traps would you recommend? (Billy James)

Answer: A hunting license is required to take all species of squirrels, and for tree squirrels there are seasons, bag limits and geographical restrictions. Tree squirrels cannot be taken with traps during the open season (see below for exception), but traps can be used to take ground squirrels. According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Capt. Phil Nelms, you have slightly different options for dealing with problem tree squirrels depending on which species are causing problems:

Gray squirrels that are causing damage can only be taken under the provisions of a special permit issued by DFG. Please check with your local DFG office to apply for a permit.

California ground squirrels may be taken with traps in accordance with sections 475 – 465.5(g) in the Mammal Hunting regulations (CCR Title 14, sections 475 through 465.5(g)). There is no closed season or bag limit for ground squirrels. A hunting license is required except when taking them to protect your property, in which case no license or permit is required from DFG.

Red fox squirrels can only be taken with traps when they are found to be injuring growing crops or other property. Traps have to be used in accordance with California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 465.5(g). Please see the 2011 Mammal Regulations booklet. Check out section 465.5(g) under furbearing mammals regulations or online at http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.asp.

If trapped squirrels are not immediately killed, you must release them immediately in the area taken. The law does not allow live-trapped animals to be relocated from their immediate surroundings. If taken away from its known surroundings, the animal is more likely to suffer from lack of food and water. Humanely killing the animal is the only realistic option.

We do not have a product recommendation regarding types of traps to use. You should check with the agency that provides animal control services in your area or maybe try a large nursery/garden supply business.

Squirrels may not be taken with cats! Joking aside, you are not in much danger of being cited or prosecuted for the predatory habits of your cat as long as you are not training, controlling or otherwise encouraging it to kill the squirrels. See section 307 in the current Mammal Hunting Regulations (CCR Title 13, section 307) available online at http://dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.

Sturgeon possession limits
Question: I enjoy sturgeon fishing and regularly go down to the Bay for a two-day fishing trip this time of year. How many can I have in possession? Let’s say I go to San Pablo on a Friday, catch a legal-size sturgeon, tag it and then take it back to my truck to put in an ice chest. Can I then fish on Saturday and catch and tag another sturgeon? If so, upon returning to my truck I would then have two sturgeon in my possession. I believe there is a yearly limit of three, but what is the possession limit up to those three sturgeon? (Mike G., Rio Oso)

Answer: No more than one daily bag limit (one sturgeon) may be taken or possessed at any time, even if the animal is frozen or otherwise preserved (CCR Title 14, section 1.17).

Photo credit: A healthy mule deer fawn (Photo courtesy of UDWR)

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 Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

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