For generations, hunters have been shooting deer with lead bullets and eating the venison with no ill effects. In fact, there is not one documented case of a citizen ever becoming ill because of eating venison taken with a rifle bullet.
Moreover, a recent CDC study, in which more than 700 North Dakota residents were tested for lead levels, found not one single individual with unacceptably high amounts of lead in the blood. That study was requested by the North Dakota Department of Health in response to allegations made earlier this year that venison intended for food banks contained excessive levels of lead.
Now, Minnesota is set to test up to 25,000 pounds of venison intended for food banks in the state, having the meat X-rayed before it is distributed. The decision came when random testing revealed that 5.3 percent of sampled deer meat contained "lead fragments."
Such overreaction is expensive. Testing the meat will lighten the state's coffers to the tune of 30 cents a pound.
But the unnecessary expense is not the only problem. The testing will delay the delivery of badly needed food to hungry families. It's being collected from all over the state and moved to the Twin Cities for testing. State officials are even considering eliminating its game donation program altogether.
All of this in light of some concrete facts:
- Humans have been consuming game shot with traditional lead ammunition for more than a century with no documented health problems.
- All individuals tested in the CDC study who consumed game harvested with lead ammunition had blood lead levels below an unsafe level.
- Lead ammunition alternatives are expensive and more difficult to obtain.
- Most other state wildlife agencies have publicly called for hunters to continue donating meat to Hunters for the Hungry programs.
When states like Minnesota show nervousness over venison's imaginary health concerns, anti-hunting groups use it to object to the use of lead ammunition. The Humane Society of the United States, for example, recently called for a ban on all lead ammunition.
Such unfounded fears hurt hunters, hungry people facing uncertain economic times, and, ultimately, game populations, for game sharing programs play a key role in helping states reach their wildlife management objectives.
Calls to ban lead ammunition, clearly lacking in scientific evidence, will ultimately do more harm than good. Minnesota's testing program is needlessly flaming that fire.
For more information on this developing story, visit www.NRAhuntersrights.org