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Lead Ammo Can Fragment

Hunting Regulations Icon Indiana Hunting

Lead ammunition, especially when fired from rifles, can fragment into tiny pieces that spread throughout big game such as deer.

These fragments cannot all be removed during processing, and ground venison can have higher lead concentrations than whole muscle cuts.

Lead exposure has a well-documented negative impact on both humans and animals, affecting multiple organ systems. Lead exposure can cause health effects in both adults and children.

Lead levels in venison may not impact adults, unless lead-tainted meat is eaten frequently. Children are at a much higher risk to the effects of lead due to their developing bodies. Even low levels of lead in children, or in women who are pregnant, have been associated with decreased IQ, behavioral changes, and learning disabilities.

Hunters concerned about lead exposure for themselves and their families may want to follow this advice:

  • When purchasing ammunition for deer hunting, especially rifle ammunition, choose a non-lead alternative such as copper or a copper alloy.
  • If you choose to purchase lead ammunition, select ammunition the manufacturer indicates has high mass retention after impact.
  • When processing your harvest shot with lead ammunition, trim liberally around the wound channel to reduce exposure to lead fragments, and dispose of the carcass in a way that prevents wildlife from scavenging from it.
  • Be aware that some processors commingle meat from multiple harvested deer when producing ground venison, so ground meat may be lead-tainted even if your deer was harvested with non-lead ammunition.