Ask The Biologist

Ol’ Tripod

Ol’ Tripod

By Bob Humphrey

What would cause it, and can a deer survive with only three legs?

QUESTION: I got this picture on my trail camera. What could cause this deer to only have three legs, and do you think it will survive? – Bob H.

ANSWER: Possible reasons are numerous and varied. As there appears to be a bare spot and possible scarring, I would say it is likely the result of some type of injury, perhaps a bullet wound or car collision severe enough that the broken leg and attached musculature eventually atrophied and fell off.

You might not think so, but this deer, which appears to be a shed buck, is actually very lucky that the shoulder did not become infected, which is often the case with such a severe injury.

As to whether or not it will survive, it’s anyone’s guess, although the deer’s chances are certainly better having survived the initial injury. Missing a leg will make it more difficult for the deer to get around in deep snow, and will make it an easier target for predators like coyotes. However, as this fellow demonstrates, deer are extremely resilient and have a remarkable ability to survive.

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Copyright 2019 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

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