Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: COVID-19 detected in deer populations | Sports
Less than two months ago, the title of this column was “Is Another Deer Disease Heading Our Way?” This highlighted the fact that not only was chronic wasting disease affecting the deer population, but another disease, the deadly epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), was also blowing its way. Now, deer in Iowa have been infected with COVID-19, according to a recent study by university researchers. They found the results so disturbing that they alert deer hunters and others who handle deer to take precautions to avoid transmission.
Additionally, the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service collected 481 deer samples from Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania between January 2020 and March 2021. They found anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 33% of these samples.
Likewise, a study from Pennsylvania State University found that more than 80% of whitetail deer sampled in different parts of Iowa between December 2020 and January 2021 were positive for SARS-CoV-2.
This was the first direct evidence of COVID-19 in a free-living species, said Suresh Kuchipudi, clinical professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences and associate director of the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Penn State. So where do they get it from? The inspection service said it was possible that deer were exposed by people, the environment, other deer or another animal species.
The findings have implications for the ecology and long-term persistence of COVID-19, said Kuchipudi, chair of emerging infectious diseases at the university.
“These include the fallout on other animals living in the wild or in captivity and the potential fallout on human hosts,” Kuchipudi said. “Of course, this highlights that many urgent measures are needed to monitor the spread of the virus in deer and prevent returns to humans.”
According to the MassWildlife website, MA DFW has previously and continues to monitor the deer and COVID situation, according to Martin Feehan, the head of the Deer and Moose project.
“Although there is no direct evidence of COVID-19 in deer in Massachusetts, published studies and unpublished surveillance across North America have found the presence of COVID-19 in deer in Massachusetts. Virginia, ”Feehan said. “Prevalence rates have varied by region, but there have been no cases of populations appearing entirely negative [in cases] in 2020 and 2021, that would suggest that COVID-19 is already present in Massachusetts deer populations. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has a negative impact on white-tailed deer and no deaths have been reported. “
Experts are still studying this virus, according to the DFW website, and there is currently no evidence that wildlife could be a source of infection for people in the United States, and there is no evidence that you can get COVID-19 by preparing or eating food, including the meat of hunted wild game. As a new emerging disease, research is underway for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and its impacts on wildlife. New studies show that wild deer have contracted several strains of COVID-19 from human sources, and Ohio State University recently found active infection in wild Ohio deer using PCR testing. Experimental research with captive deer has shown that SARS-CoV-2 can spread among deer, however, deer are only contagious for a short time (less than seven days).
MassWildlife believes that the risk of transmission from deer to humans is probably very low due to the outward appearance of the hunt and the short time that deer are contagious with the virus. SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted through inhalation of aerosolized droplets. These droplets can come from the breath or the digestive tract. Currently:
The mode of transmission from humans to white-tailed deer is unknown.
There have been no known cases of humans having contracted COVID-19 from deer.
There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from eating wild game.
To minimize the risk of disease transmission, MassWildlife always recommends hunters:
Avoid handling or consuming wild animals that appear sick or found dead.
Wear gloves and a face shield when handling, dressing in the field and handling game.
Whenever possible, treat your game outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
Be careful and minimize contact with the brain or spinal tissue.
As a precaution for COVID-19, additional preventive measures include avoiding the head, lungs and digestive tract. Handle knives with care to avoid accidental cuts.
Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after handling carcasses and before and after handling meat.
Thoroughly disinfect all tools and work surfaces used during treatment with a bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water). Consider keeping a separate set of knives used only for game meat.
Thoroughly cook game meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees to kill pathogens.
Mass Wildlife Habitat Management Grants Program (MHMGP)
The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game has awarded $ 184,400 in state grants to eight organizations and municipalities to improve wildlife habitat on 276 acres of land across the state.
Over the past seven years, the program has provided financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for wildlife considered to be in greatest need of conservation and for some species of conservation. game.
While the state and conservation organizations have purchased land in an effort to protect wildlife and ecology, more habitat restoration and management is needed on state public and private lands. As a result, the Baker-Polito administration has increased its investments by committing to work with partners to promote these efforts on other conserved lands across the state. The MHMGP program encourages landowners to engage in active habitat management on their properties for the benefit of wildlife.
“Most of Massachusetts’ forests and other wildlife habitat are not owned by the state, and we rely on conservation organizations, cities and towns, private landowners and other partners to help us manage it. ‘habitat for the benefit of all wildlife,’ said DFG Commissioner Ron Amidon. “This program gives us the opportunity to expand our habitat management footprint, directly benefiting wildlife, athletes and others who enjoy outdoor recreation.
Of the eight projects, three communities in Berkshire County; Lenox, Sheffield and South Lee will receive a combined $ 60,000 for the projects. They are as follows:
Lenox – The town of Lenox, in conjunction with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, received $ 26,810 to control the hardy kiwi vine in Kennedy Park and adjacent properties.
Sheffield – The Sheffield Land Trust will receive $ 16,040 to carry out brush grabbing and invasive species control at Ashley Falls Woods.
South Lee – South Lee Associates, in conjunction with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, will receive $ 17,400 to control invasive species and improve floodplain forest habitats on several properties in the Housatonic River.
“MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant funds will be critical to Kennedy Park and areas along the Housatonic River,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. “The Berkshires are known for their natural landscapes, and the enhancements made possible by this grant will allow our residents to continue to access and enjoy these beautiful natural landscapes for generations to come. “
Upcoming improved MassFishHunt
The official MassFishHunt harvesting licensing and reporting system for Massachusetts is being upgraded. The new system will be operational from December 1, 2021. As always, anglers, hunters and trappers will be able to purchase licenses and permits, report a harvest and access account information. MassFishHunt’s new secure and modern platform offers new features designed with the customer in mind.
So what is changing?
Setting up your account in the new MassFishHunt is simple. With just a few clicks, you will have access to new features, including:
Improved login with email and password to secure your account
Linked accounts for families
Auto-renew option lets you set it and forget it to keep your licenses up to date
Purchase option again saves your favorite products for quick payment
Improved mobile experience
Registration for outdoor skills classes
As launch day approaches, December 1, they will be adding tutorials and updates to make this transition as seamless as possible for all customers at Mass.gov/NewMassFishHunt.
Once the new system is launched, additional customer support resources will be provided.