California wildlife officials think a recent outbreak of lice might be causing deer to go bald across the state. Researchers say the deer respond to the lice by biting and scratching, which can cause hair loss. Hair and blood samples have been collected from 600 deer and elk.

Here’s another possible side effect of the lice: as deer spend more time grooming, they become easy targets for coyotes and mountain lions.

“While this theory is still under investigation, what we do know is that the louse has impacted migratory populations of California deer, which now have a low fawn survival rate, making it difficult to replenish the herd,” a senior biologist said.

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Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife