Health Officials Recommend Wearing Mask While Field Dressing Deer

By Brodie SwisherNovember 16, 202112 Comments

Just when you think you’ve seen it all concerning rules, recommendations and mandates regarding COVID, a new twist is thrown into the mix. This time it revolves around hunters and deer. 

That’s right! Because of recent findings of the SARS-CoV-2 in white-tailed deer in some parts of the country, Wisconsin health officials have now added new recommendations for the  fall hunting season – namely wearing a mask while field dressing deer. 

Health Officials Recommend Wearing Mask While Field Dressing Deer

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website, hunters are always encouraged to use good hygiene practices when processing animals to reduce their risk of exposure to many possible disease agents. Incorporating a few additional measures can also help to reduce their risk of possible exposure to  the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

  • Do not harvest animals that appear sick or are found dead. 
  • Keep the carcass and meat clean. Cool the meat as soon as possible after harvesting the animal.
  • When handling and cleaning the carcass:
    • Wear rubber or disposable gloves.
    • Wear a mask.
    • Do not eat, drink, or smoke.
  • Limit cutting through the backbone and spinal tissues to only what is necessary (for example, to submit the head for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing). Do not eat the brain.
  • Limit cutting into and handling the lungs, throat, and mouth/nasal cavity to only what is necessary (for example, submitting a head for CWD testing). 
  • When finished handling the carcass:
    • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
    • Wash all knives, equipment, and surfaces that were in contact with the carcass with soap and water and also use a disinfectant. 
  • If you are immunocompromised, consider asking for assistance with carcass processing and handling.
  • Cook all game meat thoroughly (to an internal temperature of 165°F or higher).
  • Have your deer tested for CWD(link is external), especially if it was harvested from a county where CWD-positive deer have been previously detected. Do not consume the deer meat until you have received a result indicating no CWD was detected.
How To Field Dress A Deer

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Department of Natural Resources is planning to participate this winter in a SARS-CoV-2 deer testing project being organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service.

It’s not clear how deer contracted the virus, but the researchers in the Iowa and Ohio studies suggested there was spillover of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to deer with deer-to-deer transmission also occurring.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there is also no evidence people can get COVID-19 from preparing and eating game meat.

The risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is generally considered to be low and close contact with an infected person is still the most likely way a person would be exposed, according to DHS.

What about you? Will you follow these latest recommendations? Comment below and let us know what you think about this latest update regarding wearing a mask while field dressing deer. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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