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White-tailed deer can catch COVID, USDA reports. What does that mean for Missouri hunters?

A study recently revealed that white-tailed deer can catch COVID-19, and Missouri wildlife officials will be running tests to see if the virus has made its way to the state’s animals.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture analyzed serum samples from free-range white-tailed deer for COVID-19 antibodies.

Antibodies were detected in 33 percent of samples, which were collected from deer populations in Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania between January 2020 and March 2021. The federal agency discouraged extrapolating the results to the U.S. deer population as a whole.

"There is no evidence that animals, including deer, are playing a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people," the USDA reports.