Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is clearing the airways for Mr. and Mrs. Claus to deliver gifts in Florida.
Fried and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have granted the Clauses a Certificate of Animal Movement to allow their reindeer to enter and exit all homes, domiciles, encampments and premises between 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 7 a.m. on Christmas morning.
The permit also allows Santa and his sleigh team to cross through or over any U.S. border port.
Santa’s permit must be renewed annually, which Fried has done for years.
“Given the challenges of the past two years, it’s so important for Santa Claus to safely travel the state to spread holiday cheer and bring Christmas joy to children across Florida,” Fried said. “That’s why, as Florida’s regulator for the entry of many different animals, we’ve not only issued Santa’s necessary Certificate of Animal Movement, but we’re also waiving all fees this holiday season. As is our job, we’ve verified that all animals entering our state, including Rudolph and the rest of Santa’s reindeer, are safe and sanitary to protect against livestock diseases and COVID-19.”
Port personnel will clean and disinfect the underside of the sleigh at the time of entry and will also conduct a short visual inspection of the reindeer. Santa will have his gloves and boots disinfected and will thoroughly wash his hands.
Those measures are intended to prevent the entry of any livestock diseases the team may encounter during deliveries to farms around the world before entering the Sunshine State.
FDACS’ Division of Animal Industry regulates the entry of many livestock and poultry breeds and most exotic species into Florida and into shows and exhibitions in the state.
However, nothing may be more exotic than magical reindeer.
In addition to disease testing requirements, the flying reindeer have undergone additional tests to confirm they can safely handle significant changes in altitude and temperature on their journey and are fit for rooftop landings. The reindeer have also received their necessary and routine vaccinations to protect against diseases they could encounter on their global journey.
Rudolph has again tested positive for “red nose syndrome.” But State Veterinarian Dr. Michael Short notes it is normal and not an animal health concern.
Fried, the lone Democrat currently elected to a Florida statewide office, is also asking Santa to wear a mask.
“On behalf of our entire department, we wish Santa and his reindeer good luck and smooth travels on their busiest night of the year!” Fried said.