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Wildlife Workgroup

A whitetail deer with an impressive set of antlers standing in a dry grassy field

Wildlife Workgroup



To determine the risk from PFAS posed by human consumption of game animals such as deer, waterfowl, turkey, etc. and to understand the effects of PFAS on fish and wildlife populations.


The wildlife workgroup consists of representatives from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). This workgroup interacts with other PFAS workgroups such as the Surface Water Workgroup.


Tammy Newcomb

Department of Natural Resources

Recent Accomplishments

  • In August - September 2021, adult male mallards were collected from the Greater Lansing and Grand Rapids areas as PFAS accumulation in waterfowl throughout Michigan.
  • In September 2021, MDHHS reduced the coverage area of its 'Do Not Eat' advisory for white-tailed deer taken from the Clark's Marsh area in Oscoda Township. This advisory covers white-tailed deer taken from within three miles of the marsh instead of the previous five miles.
    • Access to: September 2021 Press Release - MDHHS updates 'Do Not Eat' advisory for deer near Clark's Marsh; Advisory now applies to smaller area based on recent PFAS data analysis

Next Steps


  • 2018 PFAS Deer Technical Report - PFAS Levels in Michigan Deer and Eat Safe Wild Game Guidelines.
  • PFAS Levels in Michigan Deer from the Huron River Area. 


Ongoing Studies

  • Quantifying the Distribution, Movement, and Ecological Risk of Per-/Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in an Impacted Wetland Ecosystem (Ongoing through 7/2021)
    • Investigators:  Jason T. Hoverman, Robert W. Flynn, Maria S. Sepulveda, Matthew Hamilton, and Tyler Hoskins, Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Linda Lee and Chloe de Perre, Purdue University Department of Agronomy
    • Project Objectives:  This project will develop a PFAS food web and ecological risk model to understand how PFAS moves through all levels of the food web in the Clark's Marsh ecosystem, from algae through turtles.  Information from this work will be used to quantitatively understand human risk from consumption of wildlife as well as the risk posed to aquatic and wildlife populations from PFAS in similar environments.
  • Fate, transport and bioaccumulation of PFASs in the Huron River Watershed (Ongoing through 2/2024)
    • Investigators:  Cheryl Murphy, Arthur Dan Jones, Amirpouyan Nejadhashemi, and Hui Li, Michigan State University
    • Project Objectives:  This project will look at PFAS uptake in the flowing water ecosystem of the Huron River Watershed.  A food web model will be developed to quantify rates of transfer in the food web, characterizing it to understand potential human risk as well as risk to fish and wildlife populations.  Additionally, a laboratory study will evaluate PFAS uptake in bluegills to assess mode and rate of uptake as well as how long it takes for PFAS to leave their system.  The results from this project may be used to guide strategic monitoring and help determine when the fish consumption advisory may be lifted, inform management, and ultimately contribute to public health decisions.

?a mallard duck sitting in water; a flock of ducks in flight

  • PFAS Accumulation in Waterfowl Species Throughout Michigan (Planning in Progress)
    • Investigators:  Wildlife Workgroup staff from MDHHS, DNR, and EGLE. Project Objectives:  Similar to the deer studies, ducks and geese will be sampled from areas of known surface water contamination.  See the Surface Water Workgroup webpage for the latest updates. Selected species will represent a range of foraging types to capture the potential differences in accumulation based on food type.  Details of this project are still in development and the study plan will be posted when finalized.

a canada goose standing in grass; a turkey standing on the ground?

Additional research questions posed by the Wildlife Workgroup

  • What is the occurrence and distribution of PFAS in wildlife such as turkey and waterfowl and how does this translate to human health risk?
  • Does PFAS influence fish and wildlife health at the individual and/or population level?

Timeline of Accomplishments

  • In 2018, PFAS levels were measured from deer at four locations (Alpena, Grayling North Kent County, and Oscoda) known to have surface water contaminated with PFAS and from randomly selected deer harvested throughout the state.  PFAS levels were non-detect or below threshold levels for all deer muscle samples except one from Clark's Marsh in Oscoda.  Locations and levels of individual PFAS are documented in the 2018 PFAS Deer Technical Report.
  • April 2019 - Wildlife Workgroup officially formed with members from DNR, EGLE, and DHHS. Began to formulate purpose and mission of workgroup and developed key questions to address.
  • May 2019 - Developed requests for proposal (RFP) for PFAS studies in Clark's Marsh and Huron River watershed. Started development of workplan for follow-up deer sampling in Clark's Marsh and Oscoda area (Iosco County).
  • June 2019 - Clark's Marsh and Huron River study RFPs issued.
  • July 2019 - Clark's Marsh and Huron River study grant recipients selected. Met with Wisconsin DNR staff to begin discussions on information sharing in the Great Lakes region as it relates to PFAS wildlife issues.
  • October 2019 - Norton Creek (Oakland County) deer results came back with below-threshold PFAS levels.
  • October 2019 - Purdue began Clark's Marsh Study, Quantifying the Distribution, Movement, and Ecological Risk of PFAS in an Impacted Wetland Ecosystem.
  • Norton Creek in the Huron River watershed was determined to have high levels of PFOS. PFAS concentrations in surface water and fish samples collected from the Huron River watershed through December 2019, including Norton Creek, can be found in the 2020 Report: Investigation of the Occurrence and Sources of PFAS in the Huron River Watershed. As a result, in 2019, an evaluation was completed to assess PFAS levels in deer from the area.  Samples were collected from 20 deer and analyzed for both PFAS and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  All muscle tissue samples from the deer were non-detect for PFAS and PCBs.  Locations and levels of individual PFAS are documented in the 2019-10-01_Huron_River-Norton_Creek_deer_report_FINAL_667401_7.pdf (
  • Follow up evaluation of PFAS levels of deer near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda is ongoing. 18 deer samples were collected from hunters in 2019 and an additional 44 deer were sampled in 2020.  The levels of individual PFAS are documented in the PFAS Levels in Michigan Deer from the Oscoda Area, Iosco County (2021 PFAS Deer Technical Report)
  • June 2020 - Draft waterfowl sampling plan developed with input from DNR avian biologists and EGLE/DHHS toxicologists.
  • June 2020 - Huron River PFAS study with Michigan State University began, "Fate, Transport, and Bioaccumulation of PFASs in the Huron River Watershed".
  • July 2021 - Clark's Marsh 'Do Not Eat' deer advisory reduced from 5-mile radius to 3-mile radius based on updated deer sample results.
  • July - August 2021 - The first round of data collection for the "PFAS Accumulation in Waterfowl Throughout Michigan" study is complete.