Ah spring! I look forward to it every year. Since adulthood, I am no longer a fan of winter. It is one of the many joys stolen from us as we age. 

Others don’t look forward to spring quite as much as I do. My mom was one of those people. She had terrible seasonal allergies. Several of my family members do. What I remember growing up around these people is they are incredibly mean – short tempered and miserable to be around. If you live with an allergy suffer, you know exactly what I’m talking about. My husband’s seasonal allergies were so bad I threatened to divorce him if he didn’t get treatment. After 7 years of allergy shots, living with him in April and May is now bearable!

I woke up Sunday morning to a stuffy, runny nose accompanied with much sneezing. I hardly ever sneeze. Really – ask that husband. Was it COVID or a common cold? My allergy-experienced “life” partner (yes, I decided to keep him) suggested an alternate explanation. 

Allergies? Me? I have never had seasonal allergies. I marvel at, not dread, the wafting pollen covering every square inch of the car, porch, picnic table, and ponds. While invasive, I enjoy the sweet smell of autumn olive hedgerows. It was the smell of spring!

I have been sneezing and blowing my nose for a week now. I recently celebrated a birthday and it appears my gift was allergies. Thanks Mother Nature.

It got me thinking. Do wild creatures suffer from this? After all, they live among the yellow haze with no antihistamines or tissues. 

It is no secret that pollen concentrations have been increasing and pollen season has been getting longer. Mostly attributed to climate change. This can have an affect on respiratory health and, I would argue, quality of life. 

When I asked Google if wild animals get seasonal allergies? It wasn’t much help. Dogs, horses, cats – all have been diagnosed with allergies but those are domestic animals. Creatures we have manipulated to suit our needs and with our tinkering may have lost some of their “wild” protections. 

Surely someone would have studied or come across a sneezing skunk or a congested coyote. What I found was…dolphins. Yes, dolphins were diagnosed with allergic dermatitis. WOW!

But, of course, what I REALLY wanted to know is do deer suffer from allergies? I might be the only one who cares. People have been found to have allergic reactions to deer and elk (which can be a problem if you are a hunter or a deer trapper). But I found nothing about deer themselves.

In my dual quest to satisfy my curiosity and write a blog post, Duane suggested we speak to Don Wagner, head of Penn State Deer Research Center. Great Idea!

There hasn’t been any specific research or testing but anecdotally he has noticed watery or puffy eyes and/or runny noses in the spring and fall around the time we get seasonal allergies. In fact, when we reached out to him, he just had a buck with upper respiratory congestion the day before which was fine a day later. I feel yah buddy!

Generally, whatever symptoms the deer at Penn State Research Center exhibit are minor and go away in a couple of days. I hope I’m as lucky as those deer.

-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
PA Game Commission

Please follow and share:
Visit Us
Follow Me