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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman January 7, 2020

Photo of deer in burned rubble is from California, not Australia

Devastating photos of wildlife caught in Australia’s unrelenting wildfires are circulating all over social media.

And while some reports have estimated that nearly half a billion animals have died from the fires, we found that many included in one viral multi-photo post were not taken this fire season.

Some of the photos were taken during previous fires in different countries, too, like this photo of a deer standing amid burned rubble in California.

On its own, the viral deer image is uncaptioned. But it was posted as part of a photo gallery that included a post that reads in part, "Huge wildfire in Australia has resulted in deaths of more than 480 milion animals."Australia’s bushfires. We rated that post Mostly False after finding that many of the images are several years old and weren’t taken in Australia to begin with. 

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The image was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

After conducting a reverse-image search, we found that the deer image was taken by photographer Josh Edelson on Nov. 10, 2018, in Paradise, Calif.

This photo shows the aftermath of the deadly Camp Fire that killed over 85 people and burned hundreds of thousands of acres in Northern California in 2018.

This image is authentic, but it does not show destruction from Australia’s wildfires. Given the context in which it has been presented, we rate this viral image Mostly False.

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Photo of deer in burned rubble is from California, not Australia

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