EDITORIAL: Take care with meat, but hunt
The Minnesota and North Dakota firearms deer seasons are less than a month away. More than 550,000 hunters will head to forests and fields in pursuit of white-tailed deer. News on Tuesday suggests hunters need to take extra care when they butcher...
The Minnesota and North Dakota firearms deer seasons are less than a month away.
More than 550,000 hunters will head to forests and fields in pursuit of white-tailed deer. News on Tuesday suggests hunters need to take extra care when they butcher their deer.
That's because bullet fragmentation in venison meat has been in the news since last spring, when samples of ground venison in North Dakota food pantries tested positive for traces of lead. Lead also was found in venison donated to Minnesota food shelves.
The fear of lead poisoning triggered health departments to order food shelves to destroy 8 tons of meat. The Herald criticized the knee-jerk overreaction at the time.
Meantime, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources pursued the issue by testing bullets. The results of the study were announced Wednesday.
According to a Wednesday story by The Associated Press, "The study found that bullets fired from rifles fragmented more than those fired from shotguns or muzzleloaders. And it found that cheaper, fast-mushrooming lead core bullets spread fragments farther than copper-jacketed or all-copper bullets engineered to mushroom more slowly and penetrate farther.
The DNR found lead fragments as far as 18 inches away from the wound channel in its tests of different bullets fired into sheep carcasses.
"These fragments really go a long way," said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR's big game program coordinator and a study co-author. "The takehome is if you shoot lead bullets, there's going to be lead in the venison and there's not much you can do about it. ..."
Lastly, Cornicelli added: "Hunting is more than a tradition in this state. It's part of our heritage. Nothing we've presented here should be an impediment to going out and enjoying the outdoors."
The Herald said in its editorial last spring regarding venison donation: "... Eating venison never has been shown to cause lead-related problems of any kind in the first place, it's reasonable to conclude that the venison could have been distributed this year, too, without ill effects."
The good news is Minnesota's donation program will operate this year. Processors have been trained to inspect the meat; only whole cuts will be accepted by the butchers. The sampling program will continue. In North Dakota, food shelves will accept venison shot by bow hunters.
These decisions are reasonable for now.
For hunters, take extra care, consider using copper ammunition and as the recipe says, don't kill your deer twice.