Don’t worry – we aren’t alone. People aren’t the only ones getting tested for Covid.
On the Grand Portage Reservation in northern Minnesota, researchers are administering COVID tests to bears, moose, deer, and wolves in an effort to understand how prevalent the virus is in local wildlife. SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans—has already been widely documented in whitetail deer in Iowa, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources confirmed its first case of COVID in a mule deer doe just this week. The virus has been found in domestic cats and dogs, zoo animals like gorillas and snow leopards, and farmed mink. With 25 states reporting cases of SARS in wildlife, understanding how widespread the virus is, tracking potential viral mutations, and avoiding potential transmissions of new strains seem like logical next steps.
“If the virus can establish itself in a wild animal reservoir, it will always be out there with the threat to spill back into the human population,” University of Minnesota researcher Matthew Aliota told the Associated Press. He explained that through their study, researchers and wildlife experts hope to learn how the virus acts and evolves within wild animal populations.