Dear editor,

Chronic wasting disease isn’t the only issue with the deer flesh that hunters dump on food banks (“Hunters encouraged to donate deer,” Nov. 2).

A new study in Iowa found an extensive number of COVID-19 infections among the white-tailed deer population. Researchers believe that the deer are contracting the virus from humans (hunters appear to be the most logical source) and that other states likely have similar infection rates.

Then there’s the high probability of lead contamination resulting from the ammunition hunters use. A study conducted in North Dakota found that almost 60 percent of the venison donated to food pantries contained lead fragments.

Nonprofit organization Environmental Health Sciences published a report lamenting that food banks could unknowingly hand out “potentially hundreds of thousands of lead-contaminated meals this year.” That’s especially troubling when you consider that a large number of food-insecure households are those with children and pregnant women—the same groups who are the most at risk of serious health problems from lead poisoning.

If hunters were truly concerned about food insecurity, they could donate mountains of safe, healthy, shelf-stable proteins, such as packages of dried beans and grains, for a fraction of what they spend to gun down animals.


Michelle Kretzer, The PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Virginia

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