NC Wildlife expert talks about deer hunting warnings after high levels of PFAS found in some animals

Deer hunting season is underway for some — and there have been concerns about the detection of harmful PFAs chemicals in some wildlife.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -Deer hunting season is underway for some — and there have been concerns about the detection of harmful PFAS chemicals in some wildlife.

Right now, there is no warning for wild game in the state of North Carolina. But other states, like Michigan and Maine, are under a ‘do not consume warning’ for those hunting deer due to forever chemicals.

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However, many people travel out-of-state to go hunting — and if you do, your best bet is to check with that state’s wildlife agency to make sure the game you are hunting is safe, especially if you plan on harvesting any meat.

“For those that are concerned about these legacy chemicals and their buildup in the environment, whether in trace amounts or in concentrated amounts near a polluted site, the recommendation, if you’re concerned about it would be the first thing to do is stay away from the liver, that’s where the concentrations are the highest,” Moriah Boggess, a biologist with North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission, said.

He says it’s no surprise that some areas have found deer and other animals with such high concentrations of PFAS. He added that the most common places they see an increased presence of PFAS in deer are near airstrips or military bases, where fire suppressants have been used frequently.

“As far as these pollutants are out in the rural landscape, they probably do exist because the PFAS family of chemicals has been used for decades in a variety of household products. I mean, from clothing to aerosols, to fire extinguishers, of course. So they can exist in trace amounts out in the environment, but in general, the rural landscape, you know, of North Carolina should have very low levels and not high enough to be toxic to animals or deer,” Boggess said.

There are currently no plans to study deer for these forever chemicals — but given southeastern North Carolina’s history with PFAS contamination, the idea is not off the table.