Last year, almost 23,000 pounds of venison was provided to local charities by hunters participating in the program through licensed venison processors.
"On a local level our food banks say they are seeing up to a 40 percent increase in the need for food because of the economy," said Jane Marshall of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. "We need all the help we can get this year."
"For more than a decade, hunters in Michigan have done an outstanding job in donating venison to help families in need in all parts of the state," said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. "We are grateful for the support of hunters who donate venison, whether it's as little as a few pounds or the whole deer."
But, a recent report by a North Dakota researcher has brought up the issue of lead fragments in venison, prompting the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to inform hunters of ways to reduce their exposure to lead in venison.
As many hunters know, a controversy has developed surrounding lead contamination of venison. This is because high-velocity rifle bullets will sometimes fragment on impact, especially if they hit bone. The small fragments are likely too small to be seen or felt while chewing.
There are a number of ways to reduce potential exposure to lead. For example, hunters may select loads that are less likely to fragment; or non-toxic loads that contain little or no lead. In addition, slower shotguns and M7 projectiles do not fragment the way high velocity lead bullets do.
Regardless of weapon, once a deer has been taken, liberal trimming around the wound channel will help limit lead exposure. Discard any meat that is bruised, discolored or contains hair, dirt, or bone fragments.
"Lead fragments have been found, but we don't know that it's a health risk," said Michigan Department of Natural Resources veterinarian Steve Schmitt. "People have been consuming venison for hundreds of years and may have been consuming some lead fragments, but we're not aware of any health problems. Whether or not it's a risk, we don't know." People who are concerned about ingesting lead with their venison might limit themselves to whole cuts, as opposed to ground meat. A study by the Federal Center for Disease on whether lead in venison poses health risks to humans is expected to be completed soon.
To learn more about the program or for a list of participating licensed processors, visit the MSAH Web site at www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org.
Written By: Mike Girolami, President of WorkWear1, www.workwear1.com, a Local Distributor of Carhartt Clothing, Redford MI