Missouri plans to test deer for COVID-19 this hunting season

Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Department of Conservation plans to test hundreds of deer for COVID-19 this hunting season following a recent federal report.

The U.S Department of Agriculture reported the results of a federal study testing white-tailed deer in Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. Samples showed at least 7% of the population having antibodies for the virus that causes COVID-19. The highest population showed a whopping 67% in Michigan.

The USDA report shows that although deer were carrying the antibodies, none of them actually fell ill. There is no evidence of deer dying or humans contracting the coronavirus from eating venison.

"We want to be proactive," said Jasmine Batten, wildlife health program supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation. "We're paying attention to other states, and this is the first step to see what's going on in our state."

Batten emphasized that the testing plan is still in the preliminary stage, the Columbia Missourian reported. As of now, the plan is to test the deer that will be killed this hunting season. 

Deer hunting season has already begun for archery, and begins Oct. 30 for youth hunters and Nov. 13 for adult hunters with firearms.