Maine Issues ‘Do Not Eat’ Advisory for Deer

by Matthew Memrick

Maine officials advised hunters not to eat deer in one area because of a toxic chemical found in the animal.

Last week, Maine officials warned hunters in the Fairfield area eating deer there could cause several health problems. Fairfield is 55 miles southwest of Bangor.

Deadly Chemical Found In Deer

Yeah, there have been stories about COVID-19 deer floating around out there, but this is not it.

Yahoo! News reported that state wildlife officials tested the animal and found high levels of PFAS in them. According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, this chemical is resistant to “heat, water, and oil.” 

According to the Bangor Daily News, Fairfield is one of 34 towns in Maine that will be tested or have found the chemical. Officials found the chemical in water systems in the area, too. Maine Public Radio reported that at least 191 wells or water sources had high PFAS levels, and Maine officials installed 125 water filtration systems for businesses and homeowners in the area. 

Think cooking the deer meat will do anything? Experts say it won’t.

State officials say there’s a link between the amount of the chemical in blood and issues like increased cholesterol levels, increased liver enzymes, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer. Oh, and if you got the shot, you get less protection against that tricky COVID-19 virus.

Officials have pinpointed a five-mile radius around the Ohio Hill Road area of Fairfield. However, they say deer could spread out further than that because the animal can travel about a mile and a half a day in some cases.

Why Are Fairfield Deer Involved?

High levels of the PFAS have been found at many farms because they were in municipal/industrial sludge that went into fertilizer, state officials said.

Of course, the deer ate in the fertilized areas. Now wildlife officials say the PFAS is in the deer organs and meat. They want hunters to throw out the deer if they’ve already harvested it.

In 2020, Maine Public Radio reported a Fairfield dairy farm had slightly higher levels of PFAS in it. Officials found the milk product had 150 times the state’s PFAS standard. The testing kept milk from reaching the public.

According to the newspaper, testing is sensitive for an accurate measure of the chemical.

DIF&W’s communications director Mark Latti said testing samples had to be held in a certain way to ensure they were not contaminated. 

“Just brushing up against it with your jacket or putting it in the wrong type of container, you could throw off the levels of PFAS in the meat,” Latti told the Bangor Daily News.

PFAS products include Teflon, carpeting, and food wrap.