Residues in wild animals and food safety

Harmful residues may end up in food sourced from the wild. Find out how you can reduce your exposure and what risk management actions are in place.

Why residues are in wild animals

Wild animals can pick up harmful residues from their environment and the food they eat.

They could be naturally occurring, such as from algal blooms. Some could come from poisons used for pest control.

Are wild animals safe to eat?

Health risks from eating wild animals are low. But the risks can vary depending on the wild animal's environment.

Pigs, deer, and other hunted animals

Some poisons can concentrate in the liver and kidneys of wild animals. For this reason, don't eat offal from wild-caught animals. It also shouldn't be fed to dogs or other animals.

When you're hunting for recreation, find out where poisons have been laid and avoid those areas.

How to check for poisons in an area

  • If hunting on private property, check with the property owner.
  • If hunting on Crown land, check for records of recent poison drops from the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ospri.

Pesticide summaries – DOC

Past and upcoming pest control operations – Ospri

Advice for hunters

Food safety for hunters

Food safety for hunters guide [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Ducks and other game birds

The main food safety risk from birds is bacterial contamination. The bacteria can come from the bird itself or poor handling.


Shellfish can be contaminated with biotoxins from algal blooms.

Check for shellfish biotoxin alerts

Some areas also have a risk of chemical contamination, especially in harbours where there is the use of:

  • heavy metals
  • fuel
  • paints or solvents.

Food safety when fishing or gathering shellfish


Fish can get contaminated from algal blooms, and other contaminants. Don't collect fish, such as eels or trout, from areas near where 1080 baits have been laid. Before you go fishing, check for notifications of algal blooms or poisons on the DOC website.

Toxic algal blooms

1080 drop zones – DOC

Food safety for fishers

Who to contact

If you have questions, email

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