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Reminder: Do not eat wildlife taken near Oscoda Township marsh due to PFAS contamination

Do Not Eat advisories in effect for deer, fish, other wildlife near Clark’s Marsh

With archery hunting season underway and the firearms season starting on Nov. 15, the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Natural Resources (DNR) are reminding hunters not to eat venison from deer taken within five miles of Clark’s Marsh in Oscoda Township in Iosco County. A Do Not Eat deer advisory remains in effect due to evidence the deer may be contaminated with PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid), a type of PFAS.

In addition, due to evidence that indicates Clark’s Marsh is highly contaminated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), MDHHS recommends a Do Not Eat advisory for all fish and wildlife taken for consumption from the marsh. This includes fish, aquatic and semi-aquatic mammals (including muskrats), amphibians (including frogs), mollusks (including snails), reptiles (including turtles) and arthropods (including crayfish).

“These advisories have been issued to protect Michiganders from PFAS as this chemical has been shown to cause damage to immune and reproductive systems, raise cholesterol levels and increase chances of cancers, such as kidney and testicular cancers,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.

Three separate health advisories have been issued in recent years for Clark’s Marsh: a Do Not Eat fish advisory in 2012, a Do Not Eat deer advisory in 2018 and updated in 2019, and a Do Not Eat resident aquatic and semi-aquatic wildlife advisory in 2019. All remain in effect today.

The health advisory for deer was issued in 2018 due to high levels of PFOS analyzed in the venison from one deer of several taken from the area near Clark’s Marsh, which borders the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. PFOS is the most common PFAS that bioaccumulates in fish and wild game.

In 2019, the geographic area covered by the deer advisory was updated using section boundaries instead of road boundaries, which more closely delineates a five-mile radius around Clark’s Marsh. DNR has estimated five miles to be the expected travel range of deer living in or near the marsh. Signs are posted to inform hunters of the advisory area.

An online map of the advisory area and answers to some frequently asked questions are currently available at Michigan.gov/PFASResponse under the Fish and Wildlife button.

Due to the potential health risk of eating a contaminated deer in this area, MDHHS advises that no deer that came from within five miles of Clark’s Marsh should be eaten. The advisory does not apply to cattle, chickens or other livestock raised in the area. In addition, MDHHS recommends no one eat organs from any fish, deer or other wild game in the state because many chemicals, including PFAS, can accumulate in their organs.

MDHHS and the DNR collected additional deer from the area in 2020. Statewide assessments of PFAS in other wildlife, such as turkey and waterfowl, are also being planned. Wildlife that has been exposed to PFAS may not show any signs of being ill. If you see a deer that appears to be sick, contact the DNR hotline at 800-292-7800.

If you have health questions about eating deer or other wildlife, or about the health risks associated with PFAS, contact MDHHS at 800-648-6942.

For more information about PFAS in wild game and fish, visit Michigan.gov/PFASResponse and select the Fish and Wildlife button. For more information about wild game consumption, visit Michigan.gov/EatSafeGame and select the Eat Safe Wild Game button.

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