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Pa. Game Commission reminds hunters to take precautions while handling wildlife

To ensure their health and safety, hunters should always take precautions while handling wildlife.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Archery season for deer hunting begins Oct. 2, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission is reminding hunters to take routine precautions while handling their harvests. 

The Pa. Game Commission says there have been some recent reports that deer can spread COVID-19 to humans or that humans are at-risk of contracting the virus from consuming their meat. Although there is no evidence of this, the Pa.  Game Commission says there are always risks while handling wildlife.

These safety guidelines include:

  • Do not harvest or attempt to harvest any wildlife that appears sick.
  • Keep game meat clean and cool it down as soon after harvest as possible.
  • Avoid the backbone and spinal tissue while field dressing and do not consume brain tissue.
  • Wear rubber or disposable gloves and do not eat, drink, or smoke while handing and dressing game.
  • Always wash your hands and equipment thoroughly after handling and dressing game. Following cleaning with soap and water, further disinfection of equipment can be done by applying a 10% household bleach solution and allowing 10 minutes of contact time. Equipment can then be rinsed with clean water and allowed to air dry.
  • Cook all game meat to the appropriate internal temperature as outlined by food safety officials.
  • Do not consume raw game meat or blood of wild animals.

"With any wildlife out there, there's always a risk of disease transmission and that's why it's roundly recommended people don't handle live animals, you know they are wild creatures," Travis Lau, the Pa. Game Commission Communications Director said. "There is a disease risk involved but with sticking with safe practices and doing your best to minimize the risk of any disease transmission you're a step ahead."

The Pennsylvania Game Commission says these longstanding safety precautions have been in place for years, and have been successful at keeping hunters safe for a successful hunting season.

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