Lead-shot ban pulled from state Senate bill

St. Paul – The Senate author of a proposal to require small-game
hunters to use nontoxic shot on public land in the state’s
agricultural region has put the brakes on the plan.

Saying it needs more study, Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley,
amended the proposal out of a larger omnibus bill last week. DNR
officials pushed the lead shot ban, which would have gone into
effect in 2011.

Dave Schad, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife director, said he
was disappointed.

“We’re not leading the charge here,” Schad said. “There are 23
other states that already have developed nontoxic shot regulations
on state-managed land above and beyond what’s required for
waterfowl hunting.”

Chaudhary, though, believes the proposal needs to be fleshed out
further.

He supports the ban on toxic shot for waterfowl and managed dove
fields, but said additional study is needed to see how lead affects
upland game like grouse, pheasants, and rabbits.

“The DNR’s proposal has not considered these impacts, let alone
impacts on the land itself, the economic impact, disposal of unused
shells, whether tungsten and bismuth aren’t equally harmful, and
the time needed for hunters to get new guns,” Chaudhary said.

The agency’s proposal was the result of a 2006 report completed
by the Nontoxic Shot Advisory Committee; the participants included
representatives from the manufacturing and retail industries,
hunters, environment groups, and technical experts from other state
and federal agencies.

The group came up with five regulation options, including the
proposal the DNR eventually brought forward.

“That was a very broad-based group, and that was one of the
things they reached consensus on,” Schad said. “They all agreed
that at some point we need to phase out the use of lead.”

One of Chaudhary’s concerns was how a lead ban would affect jobs
related directly or indirectly to outdoor industries. He singled
out Federal Cartridge in Anoka, which employs about 1,000 people.
More than a quarter of those jobs are directly related to producing
and distributing lead shot.

In a statement after the ban was dropped from the bill, Federal
Cartridge said: “Federal Cartridge has a long and successful
history of participating with state and federal wildlife agencies
to address scientifically based and validated data associated with
the responsible use of ammunition. We believe that the amendment
requiring the DNR to do more research is a responsible approach at
this time.”

The National Rifle Association opposed the ban. An NRA-Institute
for Legislative Action document from April 8 reads, in part: “Lead
alternatives are extremely expensive and have reduced capabilities,
which would only increase wounding rates of game animals. There has
been no science-based evidence that lead shot has been a problem in
Minnesota.”

The DNR will develop and present the necessary report to the
Legislature next year, but the lead ban could be implemented
without action from lawmakers through the administrative
rule-making process, which can be a lengthy one, but includes
public input.

DNR officials say the lead shot ban will simplify regulations
(nontoxic shot is required for waterfowl hunting, as well as for
small-game hunting on federal waterfowl production areas) and
reduce deposition of lead in or near wetlands on heavily hunted
public lands.

A lot of shot from hunters who aren’t hunting waterfowl is
ending up in wetlands, Schad said.

“We really do believe this was a very logical and very measured
approach to taking the next step in the regulation of lead,” he
said.

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