Easley lifts reindeer ban for Christmas eve

Raleigh — Gov. Mike Easley has temporarily lifted the importation ban on reindeer coming into North Carolina and has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to keep the skies clear over the state on Christmas Eve.

Easley is keeping with holiday tradition to make sure Santa Claus and his flying reindeer will be able to visit North Carolina to deliver gifts for Christmas.

“My sources tell me that Santa is on his way with presents for children all across North Carolina,” said Easley. “I want to make sure Santa can travel freely and without any delay from Manteo to Murphy to deliver gifts.”

Easley granted a temporary reprieve to flying reindeer beginning on Christmas Eve and lasting through early Christmas morning. North Carolina is one of more than 30 states across the nation that prohibit the importation of reindeer, elk, white-tailed deer and other species in the family Cervidae due to chronic wasting disease which can infect those herds. The neurological disease has been found in some animals in the midwestern and western United States, but has not been detected in North Carolina.

Easley has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to make sure air traffic controllers allow proper airspace clearance and appropriate flight separations between Santa’s sleigh and other flying objects. The governor reminded children and their parents that they can track Santa’s location on-line or by phone with the help of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD uses several high-tech systems to track Santa, including radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft. For more information, visit www.noradsanta.org or call 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).

“Children all across North Carolina are excited about Santa’s visit,” said Easley. “I also want to remind everyone to be safe and cautious as they travel during the holidays and enjoy this special time of year with family and friends.”