DNR to Convene Multi-State Meeting June 4 on Lead Fragments in Venison

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Wildlife, public health and food safety experts from five states will meet in Minnesota next week for the purpose of helping regulators, hunters and processors better understand the implications of lead fragments in hunter-harvested deer.

The meeting, hosted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), will be held Wednesday, June 4, in Bloomington.

“This is the beginning of a regional effort to develop consistent programs and recommendations based on the best professional judgment of public health, agricultural and natural resources officials and scientists,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife section chief. “Minnesota is taking a leadership role because we understand how important this topic is to so many different people.”

Lead fragments found in venison donated by hunters last fall resulted in recalls of some of the meat from food shelves in Minnesota and North Dakota due to the unknown health risks associated with consumption of lead particles. No illnesses have been linked to consumption of fragments from lead ammunition but officials in both states opted to err on the side of caution.

Simon said invitations have been sent to wildlife, public health and agricultural agency representatives in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Representatives from the hunting industry and hunting organizations also have been invited.

Each state will review the status of its venison donation program, which typically allows hunters to donate deer to food shelves, and identify potential guidelines for management of venison donation programs this fall.

Participants also will discuss developing recommendations to guide hunters in the processing and consumption of their own venison as well as identify additional research and information about lead fragments that may be needed.

“Our expectation is that this is a working meeting that will produce a better understanding of current efforts concerning lead fragments in venison,” Simon said. “We want to identify future needs, provide guidance to hunters and processors and develop a consensus on the core elements of a uniform communication effort that will enable our respective deer management and venison donation programs to remain viable.”