09/15/2020- Hunters near Marinette are being told to avoid consuming certain parts of deer harvested from the area. The Wisconsin DNR released a report Tuesday detailing findings of PFAS in the liver of deer harvested and analyzed from the JCI/Tyco Fire Technology Center in Marinette. Following this announcement, the DNR and Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued a Do Not Eat advisory for the liver from deer harvested within 5 miles of the FTC, including portions of Marinette, Peshtigo and surrounding communities. Due to high interest from the community, the DNR harvested and tested 20 deer for PFAS levels in muscle, heart and liver tissues. Sean Stromm, DNR Fish and Wildlife Toxicologist says while PFAS levels were very low in heart and tissue samples, all 20 deer tested had detectable levels of PFAS in their livers, between 4 and 92 parts per billion.
“Consumption restrictions begin when PFOS concentrations are above ten parts per billion. 11 of the 20 liver samples had PFOS levels exceeding this… and considering the fact that the liver can accumulate other contaminants in addition to PFOS, we are recommending that hunters do not eat liver from deer harvested from this area.”
It’s unclear if or how quickly PFAS could eventually accumulate in the muscle or hearts of deer in this area and the DNR says at this point, no local follow-up studies are planned. Testing wildlife for PFAS is a fairly new process and Stromm adds there’s also not a lot known about the impact to the health of the deer themselves from this contamination.
“We don’t have what we refer to as ‘toxic thresholds’ for PFAS in deer liver. What we do know is that the liver functions to filter out contaminants, so one thing that the results show is that the liver is doing its job. But, in terms of potential health consequences or impacts, we don’t know enough to really have a firm answer to that question.”
The deer tested local were most likely exposed to PFAS by consuming contaminated surface water and at this point, the DNR has not identified a time limit for the new Do Not Eat advisory. Further investigation of PFAS in deer from other locations throughout the state during the annual 9-day gun deer hunt is under consideration.