FAIRFIELD — After finding high levels of “forever chemicals” in deer hunted from the Fairfield area, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has issued a do-not-eat advisory for deer in the area.

“Recent testing of deer harvested in the area show elevated levels of PFAS in both the meat and liver of deer,” Commissioner Judy Camuso said in a news release Tuesday. “We take the elevated levels seriously and advise people not to eat deer that were harvested in these areas.”

The area affected by the advisory includes all of Fairfield, but also extends into part of Waterville, Norridgewock, Skowhegan, Oakland and Smithfield.

State officials released this image showing a geographic across the greater Fairfield area in which they are advising against eating harvested deer. Map courtesy of Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Hunters who have already killed deer in the area should not eat the deer, and instead dispose of them in the trash or landfill, state officials said. Anyone who has already hunted a deer in the advisory areas can reach out to the state and the department will offer them an additional deer in the 2022 hunting season.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has an ongoing investigation in the Fairfield area focused on well water contaminated with PFAS, which are often called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the body or the environment.

The wildlife department harvested deer near several contaminated farm fields in the area and tested them for PFAS, according to a news release sent out Tuesday afternoon.

Five of the deer were taken near Ohio Hill Road, in close proximity to fields with extremely high levels of PFAS, and those deer had high levels of PFAS in the meat. The department found the PFAS levels to be around 40 parts per billion and the levels were found to be consistent in a fawn, yearling and adult deer. They were high enough to recommend that they should not be eaten for more than three meals a year.

Three other deer were taken from areas with lower PFAS levels. Those deer had lower levels of PFAS present, but those levels were still high enough to recommend they be eaten less than once a week.

After consulting with the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, “out of an abundance of caution” the wildlife department issued the do-not-eat advisory for the area. The advisory area includes locations where industrial or municipal sludge with high levels of PFAS was spread for fertilizer. The deer in these areas have consumed the chemicals and now have PFAS in their meat and organs.

The advisory area extends 5 miles out from the Ohio Hill Road area because that location was found to have high PFAS levels, and studies have shown deer can travel up to 5 miles during seasonal migration. The Kennebec River is a barrier to deer movements, so the advisory area does not extend east of the river.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.