I learned that scientists now have evidence that SARS-CcV-2 or COVID spreads rapidly in white-tailed deer and that the virus is widespread in deer around the U.S.

Veterinarians at Pennsylvania State University have found the COVID infections in at least 30 percent of deer tested across Iowa during 2020 according to a study just published.

I wanted to know what was happening in Vermont and New Hampshire so I contacted biologists in both departments.

Dan Bergeron, Game Programs Supervisor, New Hampshire Fish and Game said, “There have only been a handful of states that have tested for COVID in wild deer at this point and there are still many questions to be answered. That said, every state that I am aware of that has looked has found it (although at varying levels). In light of these findings many states are now beginning to test deer.”

He added, “New Hampshire Fish and Game is cooperating with USDA Wildlife Services, and Department Biologists have collected blood samples from deer over the past few weeks during our work at biological check stations. These samples have yet to be tested and we can’t say anything for certain regarding the status of COVID in our deer herd until we get the results back. We will be partnering with USDA again next year to collect more samples to learn more about the implications of COVID in wild deer. Again, these findings are all very new and there is much still to be learned.”

It is deer season in Vermont and the two biologists I wanted to talk with were out hunting. Director of Wildlife Mark Scott, an avid deer hunter, is out of the office until November 26 and deer project lead Nick Fortin is out until November 29.

When I told Dan Bergeron I suspect the Vermont biologists were hunting, he said he wished he was. It is good that those responsible for the management of wildlife are actually hunters and get out in the woods to see first hand.

Mark Scott called me back about 5 Wednesday evening right after he got out of the woods and back to his vehicle. He explained that Vermont is doing some testing this deer season and will ramp up in the coming year, working with USDA to attempt to see if COVID is in the state and, if so, will it have an impact.

Later in the week Fortin was quoted as saying, “The concern long-term is that the deer would be a reservoir for the virus. It could eventually make its way back to people in a mutated form.”

He pointed out that because testing is just underway, it’s unclear whether any deer here have had COVID-19.

According to Ohio State University virologist Linda Said, they have detected the virus in deer in Ohio as well as Iowa. She says there are antibody studies that suggest COVID infections are high in the midwest and east.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently completed a study that analyzed serum samples from free-ranging white-tailed deer for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Results of the study indicate that certain white-tailed deer populations in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania were exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

APHIS collected a total of 481 samples between January 2020 and March 2021 from Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. They detected SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 33 percent of those samples. The results varied by State (Illinois, 7 percent of 101 samples contained antibodies;

Michigan, 67 percent of 113 samples; New York, 19 percent of 68 samples; and Pennsylvania, 31 percent of 199 samples).

According to the USDA, although the results indicate that certain white-tailed deer populations in these States were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, they should not be extrapolated to represent the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the deer populations as a whole.

“It’s possible they were exposed through people, the environment, other deer, or another animal species.

“There is no evidence that animals, including deer, are playing a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people. Based on the available information, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low.”

Thanks to Peter Riviere of Lancaster for letting me know about the New York Times piece about and Iowa deer that had COVID. He prompted me to do a little research which I will continue to follow. By my next column I should hear from the Vermont biologists.

Dan Bergeron referred me to the following link from USDA, https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/qa-COVID-white-tailed-

Bits and Pieces

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department both urge people to wait until December 1 to put out bird feeders to avoid attracting bears.

Bears are actively preparing for their denning period and on the move in search of high-fat, protein-rich food sources to sustain them through the winter. As a result, bears in some areas are turning to residential areas for food.

Increasingly mild autumns and the often late arrival of winter conditions mean bears are not denning as early as in the past.

New Hampshire Fish and Game said, “Despite continued pleas asking homeowners not to feed birds during the non-winter months, bird feeders typically are the direct cause of 25 percent of annual bear-human conflicts.”

***

Mark Breen reports in the Fairbanks Museum’s Skywatch Almanac that on November 27, 2014: “ An early season nor’easter piled up 6 to 14 inches of snow through NH and most of VT; Laconia, NH and Orwell, VT had 16.5 inches.”

Parting Shots

Aaron Rogers lied or at the very least, intentionally mislead.

Rodgers has acknowledged last that he might have misled the public about his vaccination status when he said on Aug. 26 that he had been “immunized.”

The public relations disaster erupted when the Green Bay Packers quarterback tested positive for COVID and it was revealed he was unvaccinated, although when asked the question in August, he equivocated, giving the impression that he was.

After his diagnosis became public, he then talked about “woke mobs,” “cancel culture” and NFL protocols he ignored because he didn’t agree with them.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback should set a better example as a leader.

Unfortunately, sports stars, entertainers and film stars often get a pass for saying and doing stupid things.

Syndicated columnist Gary W. Moore may be reached by e-mail at gwmoore1946@icloud.com or at Box 454, Bradford, VT 05033.

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