CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -COVID-19 is spreading among deer in Iowa according to recent studies. Penn State University looked at samples collected from April of 2020 through January of this year. We talked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about whether hunters should be concerned when processing or eating deer meat.

Tyler Jacobson of Urbana is a lifelong deer hunter. He told us he isn’t doing anything differently since hearing some of Iowa’s deer population tested positive for COVID.

“I skin my deer the same way as I did two years ago,” Jacobson explained.

The Iowa DNR says it took nearly 300 samples from deer to participate in a study to find out whether they were infected with COVID. The virus that causes COVID-19, was found in 33% of those samples. A later study found those numbers more than doubled to 82% indicating the virus spread rapidly among deer. But the DNR said there’s no evidence the virus spreads through food.

”There hasn’t been a documented case of contracting COVID-19 from infected food and that includes wild game meat. So as long as the meat is cooked to an appropriate temperature there should be little to no risk,” Tyler Harms told us, Biometrician and Deer Program Manager with the Iowa DNR.

The DNR does recommend those handling raw deer meat take some basic precautions.

“Wear gloves when you process the animal, wash your hands and equipment thoroughly once your finished, those sorts of things should absolutely minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19,” Harms said.

Harms told us hunters should still be able to safely do what they enjoy. Jacobson is looking forward to more hunts yet to come this year and hopes others will do the same.

“Be safe and enjoy the hunt,” Jacobson said.

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