Wildlife diseases

From elk hoof disease to white-nose syndrome in bats, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to understand and respond to diseases that affect the health of wildlife in our state. You can help by reporting observations of dead or sick/injured animals.

You can also help by taking steps to prevent the spread of these illnesses between wildlife or to humans. While most diseases are not easily transmissible from wildlife to people, the following precautions are recommended: 

  • Whenever possible, avoid handling wildlife found sick or dead of unknown causes.
  • If sick or dead wildlife must be handled (for example to dispose of in the trash), wear disposable gloves; alternatively, a plastic bag inverted over your hand can be used to pick up small carcasses.
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning bird feeders. 
  • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after handling sick or dead wildlife, or cleaning bird feeders. 
  • If you experience unexplained illness following contact with wildlife, contact your primary health care provider or local health department as a precaution.

For harvested or salvaged game, please see food safety guidelines for game meat.

To report a public safety issue, wildlife violation, or dangerous animal, please call our enforcement officers at 360-902-2936. If it is an emergency, call 911.