Oh, Deer!

Michigan deer populations cause COVID-19 concern among residents

Sonia Hadar, Junior Writer

Shoot! Michigan hunters capture deer each year during hunting season, but this year, COVID could “shoot” down their plans.

In a recent discovery, deer populations in Michigan have been found to contain COVID-19 antibodies as a result of 113 deer samples taken from January 2020 to March 2021 by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This discovery has caused concerns of new variants of the virus spreading among humans as hunting season approaches. Hunters and even anyone living near the woods could be affected.

“I think this will affect humans because as it travels through the deer populations, it can mutate and then transfer back to us,” Henry Ford II High School senior Maria Ivezaj said. “ Mutations could cause stronger variants of the virus, making it worse for us.”

Since two-thirds, or 67% of the Michigan deer samples examined contained COVID-19 antibodies, it could put a strain on the hunting season this year through restrictions or regulations.

“I think restrictions should be placed and I believe it is in the best interest of the public and overall health for people to not hunt this year,” Henry Ford II senior Danielle Depakakibo said. “It is just another aspect that has to be restricted temporarily in order for life to return to normal.” 

Another concern as a result of the COVID-19 discovery is transmission of the virus through meat, specifically cooked rare or medium rare, although there is currently no evidence to support this type of transmission according to the USDA.

“I would be more cautious when eating hunted meat because I would want to take every precaution necessary to prevent myself from getting sick and possibly others,” Henry Ford II High School senior Lily Zook said.

Although COVID-19 concerns could shoot down the hunting season, it is significant to always practice safety and follow regulations in order to maintain community health. Listening to the facts and data is essential for the public health, even if it may involve postponing a hobby, like hunting.