Due to ‘zombie deer’ disease, no reindeer will be at Santa’s Village this Christmas

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Due to a highly infectious disease spreading throughout the United States in deer, there will be no reindeer at Santa’s Village in Huntsville this Christmas.

Santa’s reindeer have been coming to Santa's Village in downtown Huntsville for the past 15 years.

“In general it’s become a community holiday tradition," said EarlyWorks executive director Bart Williams.

But due to Chronic Wasting Disease causing what some people call “zombie deer” in 26 states, including Mississippi and Tennessee, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is trying to prevent any deer from entering Alabama from outside state lines.

“Santa had left his southern deer in Tennessee, so our deer had come from Tennessee," Williams said.

Deer species can spread the disease through their droppings, blood, and fur, but no cases have yet been found in Alabama. Wildlife officials want to keep it that way.

“So we understand," Williams said. "They’re managing this. And they’re not just singling out reindeer, it’s any deer, anything of that species.”

There are no reindeer farms in Alabama, so this year, Santa's Village will have to feature another kind of magic.

“Santa's Village will still go on, Santa will still be here, there will be some more surprise elements that will pop up in place of the reindeer," Williams said.

When it's deemed safe to transfer deer across state lines again, Santa's Village organizers said they definitely plan on bringing the reindeer back for holiday festivities.

But for now, Alabama is keeping foreign deer out. including a plan that requires hunters to de-bone deer killed in other states.

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