The U.S. Department of Agriculture has completed a study of free-ranging white tailed deer in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois that has a surprising result.

About 33% of the 481 deer sampled from January 2020 through earlier this year as researchers took advantage of wildlife damage management activities showed antibodies for COVID-19.  Researchers stress none of the animals showed signs of clinical illness from SARS-CoV-2.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

Officials with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service say the surveillance was designed to determine exposure of deer to the virus in their natural environment.  The report says “It was not designed to determine whether the deer were replicating and shedding SARS-CoV-2." 

A question and answer sheet regarding the study can be found at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website by clicking here:

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Ross Park Zoo Director Phillip Ginter says the local zoo and similar parks continue to be concerned about the safety of their animals during the on-going pandemic as, early on in the outbreak in spring of 2020, some tigers at the Bronx Zoo exhibited respiratory discomfort and tested positive for COVID-19.  Ginter says the virus, like many, can be transmitted across species and research is continuing to try to understand more.

Meanwhile, Ginter further tells our weekly, local public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse is participating in research into a COVID vaccine for animals.

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