USDA: 67% of tested Michigan deer have COVID-19 antibodies

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Today is akin to a state holiday.

It’s the first day of firearms hunting season and that means thousands of hunters have spread out across the state, keeping an eye out for deer.

Many of them might think it’s a chance to get away from all the COVID news that has plagued us for almost two years now, but a study by the US Department of Agriculture shows a significant number of Michigan deer had signs of the disease because they were carrying COVID antibodies.

Researchers with the USDA said in a statement they don’t know if the deer were exposed to COVID through the environment, other deer or people.

481 deer were tested from January 2020 through March 2021. The samples came from New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania. It was the Michigan sample of 113 deer that were found to have antibodies in two-thirds of the group. For some in the hunting and processing community, the results are news to them

“Actually haven’t heard anything. The DNR was here earlier this morning, said nothing about it. He’ll be back tomorrow, they’ll be back tomorrow for their random gathering of heads to test them for things,” said Phil Milligan of Milligan Meat Processing.

“With this COVID thing going around, it’s going to spread to everything. You know it’s something new and we’ll have to figure it out,” said hunter Trent Hurd.

The USDA does stress that the results should not be taken as a view of the whole deer population in the state. They also say that there is no evidence of people getting COVID by eating or cooking animals with the disease but they do remind the public to follow good cooking practices.

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