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USDA clears Santa's reindeer to enter and exit the United States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Santa Claus' reindeer have been given a transit permit to allow them to enter and exit the United States. File Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Santa Claus' reindeer have been given a transit permit to allow them to enter and exit the United States. File Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI | License Photo

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Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Santa Claus won't have to worry about running afoul of the law for flying his reindeer into the United States after the animals were given clearance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA said its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a transit permit Thursday "to Mr. S. Nicholas Claus of the North Pole, a distributor with Gifts and Good Cheer, Inc."

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The department said the permit will allow Santa's sleigh-pulling reindeer free passage in and out of the country between the hours of 6 p.m. Dec. 24 and 6 a.m. on Dec. 25.

"USDA is delighted to grant Mr. Claus and his reindeer a special permit to enter the United States, ensuring a seamless journey for the joy they bring each holiday season," Jenny Lester Moffitt, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said in a news release. "We extend a warm welcome to Mr. Claus and recognize the vital role of U.S. milk and cookies in fueling his festive flight."

Dr. Rosemary Sifford, the USDA's chief veterinary officer, said Santa's reindeer all passed the required health inspections.

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"At a recent inspection, the reindeer were found to be healthy and able to prance and paw with each hoof," Sifford said.

The health certificate did list "a minor physical anomaly" for one reindeer, Rudolph.

"However, APHIS indicated that Rudolph's red nose, while bright, was normal for him and not a concern," the USDA said.

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