Insecticides found in most deer samples studied, further research needed

Preliminary results of a study testing white-tailed deer spleens for presence of neonicotinoid pesticides show exposure of deer throughout the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  

Further analysis is required to determine if the levels of exposure seen are high enough to adversely affect deer health. 

Additional study results will be available this spring. 

“We wanted to know if wild deer in natural settings are being exposed to neonics and if certain habitat types had a higher risk,” said Michelle Carstensen, DNR’s wildlife health program supervisor.

“Minnesota is a great place to ask this question, as deer are dispersed across the forest, farmland, prairies, and urban landscapes.”  

These insecticides, commonly referred to as neonics, are present in a wide array of products used for insect control in homes, gardens, crops and on pets.

Of the 800 deer spleens studied from the 2019 state deer hunt, 61 percent indicated exposure to the chemicals.

The Minnesota Department of Health believes there is little-to-no human health risks for consuming venison from deer exposed to the insecticide. Additional sampling is planned for this fall.

Hunters who submitted samples in fall 2019 will be emailed the specific test results from their deer. Hunters who wish to contribute to future research can subscribe to the Deer Notes newsletter, which includes deer-related citizen science opportunities.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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