There’s some good news for local hunters related to consumption guidelines for deer harvested in the Norton Creek and Huron River area.
Testing was done for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl or PFAS substances in muscle and heart tissue taken from white-tailed deer in the Proud Lake Recreation Area, located on the Huron River in Oakland County. PFAS are man made chemicals that are resistant to heat, water and oil and for decades have been used in many industrial applications and consumer products such as carpeting, waterproof clothing and firefighting foams. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources say the results have been analyzed and it was determined that consumption guidelines are not needed for deer harvested there. The announcement coincides with the start of Michigan’s bow-hunting deer season October 1st.
The testing of deer from the Huron River/Norton Creek area was prompted by findings of levels in surface water and fish tissue samples taken from the Huron River watershed in August 2018. Last year, more than 120 white-tailed deer from across the state were sampled and tested for PFAS. Test results showed high levels of PFOS in one deer from near Clark’s Marsh in Oscoda Township, resulting in a “Do Not Eat” deer advisory for the area. MNDR Senior Water Policy Advisor Tammy Newcomb says it’s an area of very high surface water contamination and the deer tested above 300 parts per billion, which is the health advisory level for “do not eat”. In April, samples of muscle, liver, kidney and heart were taken from 20 white-tailed deer harvested within 5 miles of Norton Creek in the Proud Lake Recreation Area and then tested for multiple PFAS. No PFAS were found in any muscle or heart samples. In liver and kidney samples, PFOS was the only type of PFAS found. Muscle and liver samples from the deer also were tested for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other chemicals. No PCBs or other chemicals were found in muscle samples. Some liver samples had very low detectable levels of PCBs. Although the consumption guidelines are not needed for deer taken from the Norton Creek/Huron River area, organs such as the liver and kidneys may contain higher levels of chemicals than muscle so officials still recommend that people do not eat the organs.
Newcomb tells WHMI deer were sampled in locations representing the place where the greatest risk for contamination would have occurred. As October 1st marked the start of bow season for hunters in the field, she says this is great news for hunters as there have been many concerns related to deer drinking out of the Huron River. Newcomb noted the Huron River and even Norton Creek have much lower levels today than when the surface water contamination was first discovered because of some treatment protocols put into place. She advises anyone with questions or concerns to visit the state’s PFAS action response website, Michigan.gov/PFASResponse, and select the fish and wildlife button. A link is posted below. (JM)