Minnesota Venison Shows Significant Lead Contamination
Here's another thing that Northland hunters need to be concerned about: Lead contamination has become a significant issue with the deer population in Minnesota. Details recently released by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture show that lead levels in donated venison have increased over the past decade, with "more than 7 % of deer meat contain[ing] toxic lead fragments from bullets".
The number stem from systematic testing that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture does on a regular basis. The agency X-rays all deer meat donations that come into food shelves across the state.
The news probably shouldn't come as a surprise to hunters, but it's still catching many off-guard. According to an article in the Superior Telegram, "94,782 pounds of venison have been donated by hunters to help feed the hungry [over the past ten years]. But of that, 6,735 pounds - 7.1 % - had to be thrown out because it was contaminated by lead".
It only stands to reason that if the deer meat being donated to Minnesota food shelves shows toxic lead contamination - with increasing amounts - that the meat hunters are eating at home and feeding their families with would also test just as high. In fact, some experts theorize that the lead levels in the state's deer population could be much higher - because of the unequal amounts of meat that ends up getting donate off.
In addition to the concern for humans, the DNR is also concerned about wildlife. Many different forms of wildlife feed off of deer that have naturally succumbed and are left on the floor of the woods.
The information about toxic lead levels is part of the DNR's on-going campaign to get sportsmen to make the change from lead in their ammunition and fishing gear to other metals and composites that don't have the same harmful properties. News sources report that "a growing number of hunters are switching to copper and other forms of nontoxic ammunition".