Mysterious purple deer euthanized, may have had bacterial infection 'Bullwinkle syndrome'

Mysterious purple deer euthanized, may have had bacterial infection ‘Bullwinkle syndrome’

(As originally published with additional photos, Wed, October 11th 2023, 9:10 PM EDT; local article here)

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (TND/WGME) — There is sad news about a deer in Maine that mysteriously appeared to turn purple.

The deer had large, bulbous masses on its chest and jaw, while its face and neck, the top of its head, and other places became either deep purple or a lilac shade.

Despite first thinking the animal was in decent health despite its appearance, and seemingly harmless to other deer, officials euthanized the purple one, saying closer examination determined its health was on the decline.

A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said tests showed the deer was experiencing muscle wasting and reduced fat deposits underneath its hide and in its abdomen. The animal also had hair loss and swollen lymph nodes.

Mysterious purple deer euthanized, may have had bacterial infection 'Bullwinkle syndrome'
This deer in Maine was suffering from a condition that caused bulbous growths on its head and chest, and caused it to turn purple. (Tony Gedaro via WGME)

The lab said the deer’s symptoms align with those of a bacterial infection called “Bullwinkle syndrome,” but more tests are needed before they can be certain.

Speaking of Bullwinkle, tourist Morgan Fay called it strange.

“Sounds like something out of a cartoon,” she said.

A wildlife photographer first discovered what was happening to the deer while driving around the area, early last month.

He said he would not say exactly where he found the deer, to avoid drawing spectators.

The plan didn’t work.

Curious people in the area said they were keeping an eye out for the mysterious deer.

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