LDWF investigating after virus that causes COVID-19 in people found in whitetail deer in other states


Should hunters be worried about getting SARS-CoV-2 from whitetail deer?

Two bucks are seen at Cape Henlopen State Park, in Lewes, Delaware, on November 25, 2020. – Whitetail deer vary in color from reddish brown in the summer, to grayish brown during the winter months. Whitetail have patches of white fur around their eyes, muzzle, and throat, as well as on their underbelly and under their tail. (Photo by Eva HAMBACH / AFP) (Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is busy trying to figure out whether the virus that causes COVID-19 in people has made its way to the whitetail deer population in the state.

This became necessary after SARS-CoV-2 was found in deer roaming in Michigan, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.

Routine surveillance by USDA Wildlife Services is what led to the discovery of the virus in those states.

According to LDWF Deer Program Manager Johnathan Bordelon, “Iowa has recently confirmed the presence of SARS-CoV2 RNA in a percentage of recently obtained samples.”

More states are beginning to look for the virus in their whitetail deer population including Louisiana.

So what is Louisiana doing to see whether this virus has made its way to our whitetail deer population?

Bordelon says, “LDWF in cooperation with USDA Wildlife Services has begun collecting blood from hunter harvested deer in Louisiana.”

Results are still pending because “sampling is in the beginning stages due to the start of deer season in Louisiana,” says Bordelon.

In order to test for COVID-19, blood must be taken and a lab then determines whether the whitetail deer has been exposed to the virus.

When asked whether this virus can be transmitted from a wild deer to a hunter or another animal, Bordelon said this, ” Deer have transmitted the virus to other deer through experimentation. It is not known whether they are able to transmit the virus to people. Also, based on experimentation, deer do not display symptoms. At least no known symptomatic deer have been observed.”

If you are a hunter, LDWF recommends that you wear gloves and wash your hands after handling wildlife including whitetail deer.

We will let you know whenever the results come in from the recent blood tests conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

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