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April 01, 2008

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Discussion Topic Update: Hunters Call Lead Warning “Alarmist”

Food pantries in three states have now pulled venison from their shelves since a North Dakota physician and hunter found high levels of lead in CT-scanned meat (see our previous news coverage ). State health officials say Dr. William Cornatzer’s  findings are inconclusive, but have told pantries to throw out donated venison as a precaution, sparking sharp criticism from hunting groups. From and AP story on YahooNews:

"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. . . ."

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. . . .

"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."

Check out the full story and tell us what you think.



In the story the following quote appears:

The North Dakota Health Department confirmed the results on at least five samples of venison destined for food pantries.

If the health department has confirmed there is lead in the meat, then how do you argue against that point?

To me the next step is to determine the amount of lead, is it harmful and how did it get there.

The NSSF and other groups can cry foul all they wish, but... IF... this is a problem, you deal with it and move on.

I haven't read a single story that wants these programs to stop or says anthing negative about hunters helping the less fortunate.

It's time for common sense and cool heads to look into the matter to determine the extent of the problem and what (if) any danger this presents.



Why don't we find out how serious this problem is before we start throwing the mud?

Mc. Squizzy

I agree YooperJack

Fred Westcott

How do we know that the lead was not the result of a contaminated processing facility, as I understood it all the tainted meat was from the same hunter's deer.


That's the point of additional testing.

To see where it (the lead) came from, how high the lead levels are and if it's dangerous to consume the meat.

Again, I don't hear a bunch of anti-hunting propaganda and I don't know anyone who doesn't think the FHFH programs are a wonderful way to help the less fortunate.

Pro-hunting groups should try to co-operate with this effort to figure out where, when, how and why instead of immediately going on the defensive. It doesn't help anyone's cause to appear unreasonable.

All we know now is that lead is in the meat. The rest needs to be found out.



Right on, Jstreet. You are exactly right. It would be especially unfortunate if Dr. Cornatzer himself catches a bunch of flack from hunting groups over this. He is an avid hunter himself and he never said his finding where conclusive. But he did feel an obligation to share the POTENTIAL problem with fellow hunter. No matter how this turns out, the hunting community owes him a debt of gratitude; he had out health and that of our children in mind.
Now lets do the proper research.

I have seen reports that Dr. Cornatzer sits on the board of the Peregrine Fund, a group that has lobbied for lead ammo bans. Just because he describes himself as an "avid hunter" doesn't mean he doesn't have an agenda to push.

Iowa DNR tested samples over the weekend and they all passed the lead test.


I seriously question how that lead got into the meat. When I process my deer, I cut out and pitch all bloodshot meat. Usually we are talking about front shoulder and neck. I can not imagine that scrupulous trimming of damaged meat would not eliminate 99% of any issue. If your bullets are fragmenting that badly, you need to get a different bullet or back the load off a few grains.

Up North Journal

Hmmm.... He sits on the Peregrine Fund board and he did the testing initially! Wonder where the lead came from? He brought the meat to the hospital to run through a CT scanner. This seems to stink to me! Lets have an independent study done. Atleast the states of Iowa and Minnesota didn't pitch the meat like N. Dakota did.

Ed J

Ok guys I'm from Bismarck.
It was the ground venison that was recommended to pulled. Only a few hundred pounds were left. The Game & Fish dept. a long with the health department is in the process of setting up some guide lines to follow. We don't whether or not blood shot meat was ground with good meat. And no the program is not being discontinued.

To be continued.


Hey EdJ, thanks for the update! You made one guy feel a lot better. I didn't get one this year, but two of my son-in-laws did and I have 5 grandkids eating venison.

Realistically though, I think that more deer have to be surveyed from as many regions as possible. I wonder, do they test cattle for lead?


How does a CT scanner detect the concentration of lead? This is ridiculous. Some guy puts a lump of meat in an MRI, and says he can tell how much lead is in the tissue?

20 years as an environmental engineer and our entire industry has been wasting time with mass spectrometers when we could have just taken our stuff down to the local MRI lab.

What you have here is a guy wanting to push non-lead bullets, getting one over on the public because I doubt many outdoor writers or local journalists have engineering degrees.

I forgot to look at the byline, was this story published on April 1st?

Ed J


The doctor didn't say how much/or concentration of lead. he just said it had lead in it.

Ed J

From the pictures I saw it had something in it. I don't know what it was ?


On October the 27th, in the year of our Lord Two thousand and seven, I had the pleasure of taking a doe at approximately 15 yards with a T/C Hawken (vintage 1975 model) in .50 caliber. The powder charge was 90 grains of (because my buddy bought the wrong stuff!) DuPont FFFFg, a Remington No. 11 primer cap and a saboted Berrie's MFG 200 grain .429 FP. The recovered bullet weighed, amazingly, 199.7 grains! Whether maunfacturing or rifling caused the lose, who cares!

I agree, this is alarmism!



I wouldn't go that far Bubba. Your deer obviously had no lead. How about someone else's where the bullet blew up upon entry? Maybe they just didn't take the time to get those teeny bloodmarks out. Just threw that into burger.

BTW, what's the signigicance of the bullt/powder/cap info. Would that bullet performed differently with a different powder? Would a round ball(like I use) break up easier? I'm a bit new to the front stuffer.


The doctor didn't say how much/or concentration of lead. he just said it had lead in it.

This is exactly my point. You cannot use an x-ray or ct to tell you anything about the lead content of anything. The whole thing is silly and if anyone denies poor people free venison based on this they should be committed.

If this Dr. really feels so strongly he should buy the meat from the centers with the money he is receiving from HSUS or copper bullet manufacturers.

Dan from CA.

As a health care scientist myself, I would say this is alarmist. How many war veterans, past and present, are walking around with little chunks of lead debris in their body without any ill health effects? The point is, if you swallow a bullet today, you'll see it tommorrow in the toilet and your blood lead won't be elevated. It's all about the dose uptake to the body. The average joe that eats, say, two deer a year is not going to suffer any heath effects. Mercury contaiminated fish much riskier. The Perigrine Falcon fund pulled this same game here in CA and hunters were slow to recognize the threat. As result, 1 July of this year, lead ammo is banned in the bulk of the state (Condor range) and is a matter of law. The science was shoddy, inconculsive and the data was not directly correlated to the conclusions. Quite frankly, I believe the reports were designed to frighten the uninformed public and it succeded. Beware of anything coming from the Peregrine Falcon fund, do your homework and come out swinging. If we, as hunters, want lead out, we'll do it. No need for law and fines to do it.

don m

thanks Bubba, i think a lot of folks out there needed that. LOL



Seems a scintific study could settle this up once and for all. Where do I donate for it at?

There are health hazzards with lead and I think most people are aware of that. I don't think it is a problem with this meat, but still the development of new bullet material would be a good thing. With the price of lead going up I would welcome a subsitute also.

Walt Smith

Here's a clue--- Don't eat the bullet holes!!


Dan from CA- there are plenty of Veterans who do have shrapnel and pieces of lead in them that do have health problems that are chronic. Spend some time in a VA medical center and you'll find that lead in the body does indeed cause problems down the road. If a Vet is lucky it will just be stiffness, soreness and occassional pain. If they're not lucky a Vet can expect multiple surgeries, infections and even amputations. My 2 cents.


At the risk of repeating myself adinfinitum, I said in the earlier thread that we can test gun shot and bow shot deer from the same populations. I would bet that if there is Lead in the meat of the gun shot deer there will be a similar concentration of Lead in the meat of the bow kill! The Lead from your bullet will not osmotically migrate within muscle tissue of a dead animal, will not show up in measurable concentrations except -- perhaps -- right around the bullet path. Test road kill, bow kill and gun shot deer from the same population, same ecosystem and then we will have some data to start to work with!

Dan from Ca


I'm a recent disabled vet myself and retired Medical Service Corps officer. I have some experience in that regard. I should have been clearer about lead in the body and elevated blood leads. You have,in fact, made my point for me. Lead embedded in living tissue (regardless of other health problems), will eventually;i.e. years, show up in blood leads.

Not so in dead tissue, the metallic lead has to be metabolized in some way to cause a significant problem. I still contend that eating a few deer a year where prudent care has been taken to remove blood shot tissue, will not result in a health problem. The actions of these states was overly alarmist.

John R

Alarmism should become a new American byword. This type of incident isn't new. I worked as a water plant supt. for 30 years. Every time something was discovered to be in drinking water it raised alarms. In my locale we had a citizen's group lobby to have fluoride added to our drinking water for their children's dental benefit. After fluoride was approved and added to the water, we had another group of citizens lobby to have us stop feeding fluoride. The bottom line was both sides cited "experts" with prefixes and suffixes added to their names that had an agenda.
The problem is that technology has increased to the point that we have been able to detect trace amounts of substances that we were previously unable to quantify. Now that we know it's there, how bad is it? What is the lifetime allowable limit? Expect to see more of this type of controversy.

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