TRENTON — Squirrel is off the menu. New Jersey officials are warning residents near a toxic waste dump in the northern part of the state to restrict how much squirrel they eat, two months after a lead-contaminated animal was found in the area.
A letter sent to Ringwood residents, many of whom hunt, advised them that children should not eat squirrel more than once a month, pregnant women should limit their intake to twice a month, and adults should not eat squirrel more than twice a week.
“We’ve known for a long time something was wrong here, we just didn’t know what it was,” resident Myrtle Van Dunk told The Record of Bergen County for Thursday’s newspapers.
Residents and many environmental activists believe the lead comes from toxic waste, including paint sludge, dumped in the area by the Ford Motor Co. during the 1960s and early 1970s, from its now-closed car manufacturing plant in Mahwah.
Ford is removing thousands of tons of waste from a 500-acre former mining property in the Ringwood area. The site was recently relisted on the federal Superfund list, a ranking of the country’s worst environmental dump sites, after multiple cleanups failed to remove all of the sludge.
This is the first time the state has issued warnings on how much squirrel people should eat, Tom Slater, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Senior Services told the newspaper; the department, along with the state Department of Environmental Protection, issued the warning. Lead, which is harmful even in small amounts, can damage the nervous system, red blood cell production and the kidneys.
The Ringwood area is home to many members of the Ramapough Mountain Indian tribe who hunt and fish in the area.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Please don't eat the squirrels, New Jersey warns residents
by Joshua Trupin at 1/25/2007 08:09:00 PM