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The lead venison issue- meeting in Bloomington.

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People are eyeing a concern involving meat from deer.

Experts from seven states are concerned enough about meat from deer, they met in Minnesota Wednesday to discuss lead fragments recently found in deer.

The fragments are caused from hunter's ammunition and in some cases the lead found in venison has meant an end to food shelf donations.

As a result, lead found in deer will likely lead to changes in its hunt.

"North Dakota dealt with this very early on they ended up pulling venison off of their food shelves," said Minnesota DNR's Dave Schad.

Several months ago Minnesota and other states followed North Dakota's lead.

Initial screening results by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture found evidence of lead in 30 percent of its more than 200 samples, which was more than enough to grab the attention of public health officials, the state's deer hunting association and DNR officers.

"Lead is a serious toxin and it has been removed from many other products gasoline, paint, plumbing supplies, tackle and ammunition, we haven't gone there yet, but the fact is it's a serious neurological-toxin and something that we need to be very concerned about," said Schad.

Some hunters argue they've been shooting deer with lead bullets for years and never had a problem before and Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association Mark Johnson has fielded hundreds of calls from concerned hunters.

"It's a generational split very much the younger people say is there something to this and what should we do to make it safer so we can reduce our risk and that's a good question," said Johnson.

Today's meeting helped all of the offices involved get on the same page and figure out what to tell hunters.

A couple ideas tossed around; using copper bullets instead of lead ones and keeping a closer eye on deer processing.

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I've read the Pioneer Press,Star Tribune and Duluth paper's account of the meeting yesterday. Only the Mpls paper had the following info, which seems to blunt the argument that it is a problem only if commercial processors are invovled.

By Doug Smith, Star Tribune

Last update: June 4, 2008 - 11:38 PM

Minnesota officials have tested 1,239 samples of venison donated to food shelves last fall and found that 273, or 22 percent, had evidence of lead bullet fragments.

That percentage is similar what was announced in April after about 300 samples had been examined with X-ray equipment.

But the extent of the issue continues to surprise and perplex officials.

Because all of the donated venison was processed commercially, some have suggested that careless processors might be at least partially to blame.

But the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources collected and tested 123 samples from DNR employees who processed their own deer themselves. They found about 18 percent had some lead contamination.

"I was shocked,'' said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big-game program manager and a deer hunter whose own venison had some lead contamination. "I'm pretty careful how I trim around wound channels.''

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OK here is my opinion and someone please tell me if this sounds crazy. Hunters have been killing game with lead bullets for how many years, 100+ maybe. If so how in the world can people honestly be shocked to find lead in the meat?

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...or 22 percent, had evidence of lead bullet fragments....

All this fuss over 22 percent?!! If the lead in the bullet was the issue wouldn't the percentage be way higher? Are 78% of deer shot with arrow, or in the head? I don't think so. I can't imagine blaming the bullets for the 22 percent.

I have always wondered how sturdy my "made in China" meat grinder was built. Do I have lead rubbing off of the grinder's components onto the venison? Seems like a more likely reason for 22 percent than bullets.

I hope the venison donation program isn't permanently discontinued. Maybe throw a "Lead has been proven to be bad in the state of California" sticker on the packaged meat, and let the people decide.

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I understand your theory, but I highly doubt there was any lead used in the construction of your grinder. The reason they use it for bullets, splitshots, jigs, etc. was because it's soft & heavy. Those wouldn't seem like very good metal properties for grinder components.

I'm like you not very worried about it, maybe I should be. I certainly have had steaks or chops before that we pulled an entire rifled shotgun slug out of. Why couldn't there be fragments from a rifle bullet that get missed as they really blow up?

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I assume there is someone who is studying this scientifically and will on some future day present actual concentration and risk data. While there may be lead in some venison, or any toxin for that matter, what only matters is the dose over time. How much are venison eaters expected to consume over time period X? In what form is it in, and how likely is the body to absorb it?

It seems to me that no one has the facts right now to decide one way or the other.

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