Despite the known deleterious effects lead (Campbell et al. 2005) exposure can have on humans, it remains the most common type of ammunition used to harvest big game and upland game birds. We sampled wild turkey ( Meleagris gallopavo ) breast muscle shot with standard lead- and copper-plated lead pellets to quantify lead residue concentrations within the wound channel and multiple adjacent locations to measure the extent lead contamination spreads through tissue of harvested turkeys. Birds harvested with standard lead ammunition did not differ in lead concentrations from those shot with copper-plated lead, suggesting copper-plating does not aid in reducing lead exposure. Additionally, we found samples taken from the wound channel contained more lead (x = 3.76 ug/g, dry weight) than both the adjacent samples (x = 0.20 ug/g, dry weight) and samples taken from >5 cm away (x = 0.15 ug/g, dry weight). Our findings suggest that wild turkeys harvested with either lead or copper-plated lead shot have the potential to expose consumers, especially children, to amounts of lead exceeding consumption limits set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, elevated lead levels were confined to the wound channel, and thus proper preparation of game to remove tissue surrounding wound channels will eliminate or substantially reduce lead exposure from harvested game birds.

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