Skip to comments.Warnings of lead in venison irk hunters
Posted on 03/31/2008 12:42:01 PM PDT by neverdem
Thousands of pounds of venison donated to food pantries this year has become a contentious gift in three states.
Officials in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa warn that the meat could be contaminated by lead from bullets. Hunting groups are calling it an overreaction.
"It's alarmist and not supported by any science," said Lawrence Keane, a vice president and lawyer for the Newton, Conn.-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. "High quality protein is now taken out of the mouths of needy, hungry people."
North Dakota health officials on Wednesday told food pantries in the state to throw out donated venison, saying it may have lead fragments. Officials in Minnesota and Iowa followed with similar alerts, asking that venison in those states not be distributed.
Gov. John Hoeven said the alerts were issued as a precaution. He said the state has a "tremendous working relationship" with hunters, and the questions raised about venison are new.
Safari Club International's Sportsmen Against Hunger program donated 317,000 pounds of venison last year to the needy, said Doug Burdin, a lawyer for the Tucson, Ariz.-based group. The meat donated by hunters was enough for more than 1.2 million meals, he said.
"It's provided a lot of free meals to a lot of people," Burdin said. "Hunters are doing something they love and helping others at the same time. This is disheartening, and we certainly don't think this program should come to an end on the unscientific assessment that has occurred here."
Dr. William Cornatzer, a Bismarck physician and hunter, alerted health officials after he conducted his own tests on venison using a CT scanner and found lead in 60 percent of 100 samples. The North Dakota Health Department confirmed the results on at least five samples of venison destined for food pantries.
"This isn't just a food pantry problem. This is a nationwide problem," Cornatzer said Friday.
Hunters have alternatives to lead, he said. "I'm a big hunter. I've already purchased four boxes of copper bullets to next year," Cornatzer said.
The North Dakota Community Action Partnership distributed 17,000 pounds of venison from 381 donated deer after last year's hunting season, a number that has tripled since the program began in North Dakota in 2004, executive director Ann Pollert said. At least 4,000 pounds of venison were in food pantries in the state when the health department issued its warning, she said.
The state has about 45 food pantries, and surveys have shown a need for more than 70,000 pounds of venison annually, Poller said. She hopes people will donate other types of meat.
"Meat is so expensive," she said. "This is going to have an impact - it's a quality, lean meat protein source that we're losing."
Jason Foss, president of Minot-based Pheasants for the Future, said hunters from his group donated about 100 deer this year to the program. He believes the issue of lead-contaminated meat is "a little extreme at this point."
"Sportsmen have been shooting deer for hundreds of years with lead bullets with no problems," he said. "I hope this program keeps rolling along because so much good comes out of it."
National Shooting Sports Foundation: http://www.nssf.org
For more than a century, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely consumed game harvested using traditional hunting ammunition. There is absolutely no peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support the unfortunate and unnecessary overreaction by North Dakota and Minnesota health officials, based on an unpublished study by a local dermatologist, to have food pantries discard perfectly good meat because it was taken with traditional ammunition. Furthermore, we question whether a dermatologist is even qualified to render these opinions, particularly in light of the absence of any scientific findings published by qualified experts. No systematic scientific or epidemiological evidence exists in the scientific literature to support conclusion that there is a human health exposure risk. The dermatologist study does not scientifically establish the existence of a health risk. For example, there is not a blood test to show whether anyone who consumed venison acquired at a food panty had elevated lead levels, let alone that the venison was the source. The decision to take nourishing, high-protein food out of the mouths of the needy was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the chemistry of elemental lead and the human digestive system. The state is needlessly creating a scare upon hunters that has no basis in science. We strongly urge North Dakota and Minnesota health officials to reconsider their decision and for other states to base their public policy decision on sound science.
This dermatologist must be some kind of environazi.
I know I am irked. Damn irked.
See that "has", make it had..
Heck, I’ve seen that much shot in one squirrel.
If this stands, watch for a general call for all firearm hunting to be banned because of “lead contamination” of the meat.
One would not normally eat the meat in the area where the bullet enters/exits the animal. This guy’s a dope.
Yep...last I checked, lead doesn’t leech or oxidize and therefore doesn’t hurt the environment unless it is ingested (and then at higher levels than one is really capable in eating in game with lead shot or bullets). Which means, just another form of control. Biggest risk is breaking a tooth, so therefore we should outlaw steel, bismuth and tungston shot right?
That picture is a bunch of bull. Iv’e killed upwards of 40 deer for the table and i have never had bullet or slug leave that much lead in the meat. What the heck did the butcher do? Pack up the wound channel?
Does this mean that deer must now carry a warning label as approved by the FDA?
We need to pick up on these news items a little quicker and sooner. This was news on the MSM two days ago. My vet said the story is ludicrous.
You should see some of the ducks we get at close range and the youngsters shooting. They haven’t learned to head shoot or let them get out aways.
Er - Doc, normally I think if you just spit it out it won’t hurt ‘cha.
“Officials in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa warn that the meat could be contaminated by lead from bullets.”
Could? Maybe? Lets see some proof based on chemistry.
The CT scan shows high-density points, but if the hunter was using Barnes or similar, the points are copper or brass.
CT cannot identify elements, just relative x-ray density. It takes a little easy work to find out what the dense points are.
Send it to me. I’ll fire up the grill and open a nice red.
Lead, asbestos, total nanny fascist overreaction.
That could be the goal, or the incremental one of requiring special non-lead bullets to increase operating costs to hunters.
A non-lead slug costing $10 each that causes extreme barrel wear would be ideal from that viewpoint.
The deer that I shot 2years ago weighed 1.575 million grains and the bullet I shot it with weighed 185 grs.
You do the math.
Two weeks ago, I had a piece of either venison or elk pepperoni from the fall hunting season for lunch. Somewhere along the line, I found a piece of lead about the same size as a BB, but nowhere near round.
As far as I could tell, the only danger was to my teeth. God knows, I have clamped thousands of lead split shot on fishing lines in my youth.
I have been on a work-required annual lead test from the ages of about 50-58*, and no lead has ever been found in my system. I can attest that eating several bullet shot deer, feral hogs, and an occasional elk or two, does not elevate lead levels.
- - -
* The reason behind this was that we were once working with a bullet trap to collect rifle shots at work. One of our female lab techs (very cute) noticed that there was lead dust in the trap, and call our internal industrial health & safety.
The guy who answered the phone knew her by sight, and said “Judy, your right that is lead and you are contaminated. Take off all your clothes and wait for me.”
The net result of this was that all of us got lead tests every year for a long, long time.
That's my take on it. If that CT scan is indicative of all packaged venison I should have been dead years ago from the hundreds of packages that have been in my freezer.
It's baloney, IMO.
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