What hunters need to know about COVID-19 and white-tailed deer

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 5:40 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Reports from the USDA show some white-tailed deer have tested positive for COVID-19 in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Illinois. Another study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found sick deer a little closer to home in Iowa.

“In North Dakota, at this point, we don’t know if our deer are infected with the virus,” said Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Charlie Bahnson, “We don’t know if it’s occurring at all in the state or to what extent it would be.”

“We really haven’t had much chance to digest for what that research means for deer and hunters in Minnesota,” said Minnesota DNR Big Game Program Leader Barb Keller.

University of Minnesota researchers have begun testing locally harvested deer for COVID-19.

“I’ll be interested to see what comes out of that research,” said Keller. .”

North Dakota Game and Fish has no plans to test deer this hunting season, but it’s not off the table for next year. It’s unknown how deer came into contact with the virus. Dr. Bahnson said there are theories floating around.

“We know that virus can be detected in wastewater maybe somehow deer come into contact with that,” said Dr. Bahnson.

As the experts begin to wrap their heads around what this means for hunters and deer, “I hope that hunters can take this one in stride and continue to get out there and enjoy what is so important to them,” said Dr. Bahnson.

The USDA says there is no evidence humans can get the virus from eating the meat of an infected deer.

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