December 11, 2023

I don’t know who started it, but I’m gonna stop it

‘I don’t know who started it, but I’m gonna stop it’. That’s what my mother used to say when one of the kids blamed another one for starting something. When blame becomes pointless, it is the sensible approach.

We have long since reached that point with the Covid-19.  There has been data on the virus in the deer population for months, but more recently released scientific study announced that 80% of Iowa deer samples taken during the 2020-21 hunting season tested positive for Covid antibodies. Field and Stream’s Nov. 10, 2021 issue has a good summary of the study. Surprisingly few conclusions are being drawn from this. The scientists involved in the study speculate that the deer got it from humans. But we also know that mink farms in Europe harbored the virus, in addition to the wild animal (“wet”) markets in Wuhan. We know that there were differences between the strains of Covid first identified in New York and NewJersey and those first identified on the west coast.  And we know that birds can spread other pathogens, but seemingly little is being done to study the role of migratory species in spreading Covid-19.

What if the virus had already become endemic in some wild species worldwide before the first human cases were identified in China? I don’t claim to be a scientist and I have no idea whether that hypothesis is sound, but it would be nice to read more in the media about what scientists are looking at in terms of non-human spread.

The deer population is apparently immune to sickness from the virus themselves, so natural selection is not going to get rid of the virus among deer. Consequently, as the Penn State and Iowa DNR researchers fear, the deer population could become a reservoir for mutating strains transmissible to humans. In that case, just telling hunters to wear masks and gloves when they dress their meat isn’t going to be enough. The only way to control anything this widespread is with vaccines.

There is a great new documentary film out called The Mustangs that shows, among some other great horse shenanigans, a group of old women in Wyoming shooting wild mares with birth control darts. Doing something like that with covid vaccine darts could greatly enhance our local sporting opportunities.