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Precaution About Lead in Venison

Deer that are shot with rifle bullets containing lead, particularly copper-jacketed and hollow-point bullets, can have particles of lead remaining in the meat, some too small to be seen or felt.

Lead can be harmful to humans, even in very low amounts. Children under seven years old and pregnant women are at the greatest risk from lead exposure.

The following suggestions can minimize potential exposure to lead in venison:

  • Remind your meat processor to, or if you process your own venison, trim a generous distance away from the wound channel and discard any meat that is bruised, discolored or contains hair, dirt or bone fragments.
  • Avoid consuming internal organs.
  • Practice marksmanship and outdoor skills to get closer, cleaner, lethal shots away from major muscle areas (don't shoot running deer).
  • Consider alternative non-lead ammunition such as copper or others that have high-weight retention.

If you have questions about the health effects of lead exposure from lead shot or lead fragments, call the Michigan DNR Wildlife Disease Lab at 517-336-5030 and/or look through the information on the DNR website at You may also contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-648-6942 or visit