Investigation of glyphosate residues in deer or moose tissues, browse, and berries in Maliseet Territory in New Brunswick

Fiscal Year



Maliseet Nation Conservation Authority, New Brunswick

Principal Investigator

Ave Dersch, Ph.D., Moccasin Flower Consulting

Community Project Lead

Ave Dersch, Ph.D., Moccasin Flower Consulting

Project Members

Claire McAuley, M.Sc., Intrinsik Corp. and Patricia Saulis



Project Summary

Wolastoqey Nation, which includes six communities (Madawaska, Tobique, Kingsclear, Saint Mary’s, Oromocto, Woodstock), was concerned about the use of glyphosates by the forestry industry in Wolastoqey (Maliseet) territory. Glyphosate is commonly used to suppress weeds, grasses shrubs and deciduous trees and prevent them from interfering with evergreen seedlings planted after clear-cutting operations. Glyphosate is also used for the maintenance of linear corridors (e.g., hydro lines) near traditional territory. This study was one of the few to investigate the potential impacts of glyphosate on traditional foods in New Brunswick.

The objectives of the study were to: 1) measure levels of glyphosates and heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium, in moose and deer (muscle, liver, kidney, tongue, heart and lung) as well as in fish, fiddleheads and berries; 2) administer a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to examine food consumption patterns; and 3) conduct a human health risk assessment (HHRA) to characterize the risk of environmental contaminants on human health.

The study found that heavy metal concentrations in moose muscle tissues were generally low and representative of meats available in Canadian supermarkets. Glyphosate was not detected in any of the samples. It was concluded that the consumption of game meat, fish and vegetation was safe in quantities exceeding what was reported in the study. However, moose organ meat should only be eaten in very small quantities on an occasional basis. Since cadmium naturally accumulates in moose kidneys and liver, the consumption of organ meat from younger moose was recommended over the consumption of the organs of older animals. Arsenic concentrations in fish varied depending on the location where the fish was sampled. To ensure that exposure to arsenic remains low, it was recommended that fish should be harvested from a variety of locations. A fish consumption guideline for women of childbearing age and children has been in place for fish from lakes and rivers in New Brunswick.