WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 2013 – USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a movement permit to one Mr. S. Claus of the North Pole. Mr. Claus is a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited.

“The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 6 p.m. Dec. 24, 2013, and 6 a.m. Dec. 25, 2013, through or over any northern border port,” Dr. Peter Merrill, APHIS director of animal imports, wrote in a blog post today.

APHIS regulates the movement of cervids – members of the deer family, including reindeer –  into the U.S. through its permitting process. The procedure seeks to protect U.S. livestock by only allowing healthy animals into the country, APHIS says.

“During this season of giving, USDA wants to do everything in its power to help Santa,” said Dr. John R. Clifford, USDA’s chief veterinary officer.

 “We agreed to waive the normal application fees and entry inspection/overtime costs, provided he winks his eye and wishes port personnel a Merry Christmas at the time of crossing.”

More details from APHIS:

“APHIS also waived the normally applicable disease testing requirements, as the North Pole is recognized by APHIS as negligible risk for all livestock diseases and at a recent inspection, the reindeer were found to be healthy and able to prance and paw with each hoof.

“As a condition of entry, the reindeer must be certified by Santa Claus as never having been fed anything other than hay, sugar plums, and gingerbread.  The reindeer must also be individually identified with microchips or official eartag identification, and must respond to the names Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner,  Blitzen and Rudolph when interacting with port personnel.  No more than one reindeer in the group may be visibly affected by ‘Rednose Syndrome’, and upon entry, port personnel will visually inspect the reindeer to ensure they are healthy and fit for continued travel.

“They will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh that has jingling bells attached and is filled with brightly-wrapped gifts.  Port personnel will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry.”

“With these steps completed, the reindeer will continue their journey across the country and around the world, spreading holiday cheer as they go,” said Clifford.


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