Gun Season Begins As Upstate Deer Test Positive For COVID | New

LOGAN – The whitetail deer hunting season is one of the busiest and most celebrated times of the year in Southeast Ohio. Statewide, gun season started yesterday, Monday, November 29, and ends next Sunday, December 5.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, from the start of archery season (September 25) until November 23, hunters have harvested 1,195 deer in Hocking County; 795 wood and 400 without wood.

Hocking County is a two-deer harvest county, said Lindsay Rist, ODNR wildlife communications specialist; by comparison, the neighboring county of Athens is a three-deer county. Six is ​​the statewide harvest limit, she added.

According to the ODNR, hunting is authorized on the property of the Hocking State Forest; however, it is not permitted in nature reserves or Hocking Hills State Park and shooting is prohibited within 400 feet of any building, facility or recreation area and from or across any road.

Likewise, hunting is permitted on Wayne National Forest property; However, it is not permitted within 150 meters of a building, campsite or recreation area, and the unloading of a firearm is not permitted “from, in or at through a parking area, a path, a boat launch or a forest road; ”Across a body of water and in or inside a cave.

However, this year may look a little different for hunters – strangely enough, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio State University Associate Professor Andy Bowman told Logan Daily News that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been found in deer in northeastern Ontario. Ohio.

Earlier this month, NPR reported that SARS-CoV-2 in deer “could change the course of the global pandemic,” following a study by Pennsylvania State University that found active infections in at least 30% of deer tested in Iowa in 2020, suggesting that white-tailed deer could become “reservoirs” for the virus, meaning they can carry it indefinitely and spread it periodically in humans. A week later, cleveland.com reported that hunters should take extra precautions this season due to the presence of the virus in deer.

“With reports in Ohio and Iowa, it would appear that this is not just a localized phenomenon in northeastern Ohio or Iowa,” Bowman said. “It’s probably happening elsewhere.

The deer do not recognize county boundaries, Rist noted. However, the infected deer showed no “clinical” signs of the virus, Bowman said. “And this also applies to those infected experimentally.”

According to outdoor outfitter Mossy Oak, yearlings leave the area where they were born for a “home range” of about 600 to 1,000 acres; However, they adapt their range to their survival needs and rutting season, Rist said.

However, Bowman said, the infected deer, while asymptomatic, were able to transmit the virus from deer to deer. It appears that COVID in deer is an infection of the upper respiratory tract, just like in humans, he explained.

“In experimental studies of infections, the virus was highly localized in the upper respiratory tract – nasal passages and upper respiratory tract,” Bowman said. “It would appear that transmissions (are) probably occurring over this route.”

Transmission from deer to humans is currently unknown, Bowman said, however, he stressed that caution should be exercised. “I think you have to treat him like there’s a risk there,” Bowman said. “What the risk is, we don’t know. “

Bowman said there have been a variety of studies that have been published in recent months that appear to show deer are susceptible hosts for SARS-Cov-2. It is not known how deer become infected with the virus, he said.

“There is ongoing speculation that just about everyone has different ideas,” Bowman said. “We don’t know if it’s coming directly from humans, if it’s some kind of environmental contamination by humans, if it’s humans infecting another animal species which then infects deer. It’s really not clear.

It is also unclear what COVID in deer populations means for the future of the pandemic. The “really big question,” Bowman said, is what this means for long-term virus control.

“We played the game basically like having the virus in a host, humans – that would change that,” Bowman said. “We have to consider that there may be viruses circulating in a wildlife reservoir.”

Bowman mentioned that Wisconsin is the first and only state to date to issue recommendations for hunters to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and face masks, as they dress in the field and treat deer.

“The high-risk tissues will be the upper respiratory tract,” Bowman said, adding that the immunocompromised or those at high risk may be the ones who want to take extra precautions. However, cleveland.com reported that “COVID can also involve the gastrointestinal tract.”

Hunters are at increased risk compared to the general public, as the general public generally does not have close contact with deer, Bowman explained. “I think they just need to use whatever precautions they feel are appropriate for the situation, realizing that these animals can be exposed, can be infected with SARS-Cov-2.”

Samples are collected every day, Bowman said. Samples from Ohio were collected from January to March of this year, and those from Iowa until the end of 2020. For Bowman, scientists and the public are finding COVID in deer with a delayed perspective.

“Everyone learns about it in retrospect,” Bowman said. “And we are trying to understand what the landscape is like today… We are trying to answer this question: ‘Are there any differences depending on the location? We are trying to study the whole state.

According to the Hocking County Health Department, as of November 23, the county had 125 active cases of COVID, six hospitalizations (not all hospitalizations in the county) and 19 deaths since August 1. As of Nov. 29, according to the Ohio Department of Health, the county has recorded a preliminary total of 3,996 confirmed cases of COVID.

Bowman and Gail Keirn, legislative and public affairs representative for the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center, both recommended hunters follow USDA guidelines for preparing wild meat. All game meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, Keirn said in an email; infection shouldn’t be a problem as long as the meat is cooked properly, according to cleveland.com

Hunters who find themselves with more meat than they need can donate it to Logan’s Southeastern Ohio Regional Food Bank, 1005 CIC Drive.

According to a public Facebook post by food bank coordinator Phil Melillo, the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) is created and funded to accept wild deer harvested this year in the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank counties, which are Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Perry, Vinton and Washington counties.

“We don’t care where the deer come from, but they must be processed by my processor or a processor certified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture or certified ‘not for sale’,” wrote Melillo. “I can pay for the treatment, but you will need to contact me first if you plan to use a processor other than my processor. My processor has a 24 hour access cooler for the depot.

Melillo said people are welcome to send him a private message for more details. His post has seen over 500 shares. The Southeast Ohio Food Bank can be contacted at (740) 385-6813.

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