Risk Factor
  • Injuries or death resulting from a violent force that results in compression, stretching, twisting or penetration of tissues.
  • Most common injuries or mortalities are from collisions with vehicles, trains, aircraft, power lines or transmission towers.
  • Other traumatic injuries and deaths also include wounds received through trapping or shooting, fighting with members of the same species, or wounds resulting from predators.
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Trauma - Vehicle Collision Trauma - Predation
Deer and other mammals are often struck by vehicles and may succumb to their injuries. Breast musculature is often completely removed on depredated birds.
  • Throughout the year
Mechanism of Action
  • The extent and severity of traumatic wounds will depend on the area of the body involved, the tissues damaged, as well as the strength of the physical blow.
  • Secondary bacterial infections may occur at wound sites.
  • Internal injuries may be severe or fatal, particularly if they result in organ rupture.
Signs and Symptoms
  • Collisions with vehicles are often fatal, although some animals can survive.
  • Victims of vehicle collisions are often found on or near roadways. Injuries may not be apparent as wounds may not be visible.
  • Shooting wounds may be fatal, although fragments of ammunition may become lodged in bone or, rarely, in tissue and become essentially inert.
  • Within-species fighting injuries are rarely fatal or serious. Gore wounds may occur in species with horns or antlers, while bite wounds on the neck and throat may be observed in wild dogs. Secondary infections or organ or body cavity penetrations/ruptures may cause illness or death days or weeks after the original injury.
  • Injuries resulting from predator attacks may be found on the hind legs, neck, head and flanks. Hemorrhage underneath the skin at the site of the wound is common and may extend beyond the range of the wound itself.
  • Any animal with a pre-existing injury may be more susceptible to a predator.
  • Predators may receive wounds from large game defending themselves, e.g., head wounds or broken bones resulting from antler or kicking blows.
  • Birds that have collided with power lines are often found beneath either power lines or transmission towers. See also electrocution.
Meat Edible?
  • Unless another condition is present, meat from animals succumbing to traumatic injury is safe for human consumption.
  • Any traumatic injury will, however, likely reduce the quality of meat.
Samples for Diagnosis
  • A full post-mortem will identify the cause of death of most traumatic mortalities. Portions of affected tissue can also be submitted.
Similar Diseases
  • A bird that is found dead beside or near power poles or power lines cannot immediately be assumed to have succumbed to traumatic collisions with power lines, as electrocution may also have occurred.
Further Reading
  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game – Trauma
  • Cooper J.E. 1996. Physical injury. Pp. 157-172 in A. Fairbrother, L.N. Locke, G.L. Hoff (eds.), Non-infectious Diseases of Wildlife. Iowa State University Press. Ames, Iowa. 219 pp.
  • Elkin B., Zamke R.L. 2001. Common Wildlife Diseases and Parasites in Alaska. Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Anchorage, AK.
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