Sunday, March 20, 2016

A report: The DNR's proposed ban on non-toxic shot in Farmland WMA's

I attended the Minnesota DNR's non-toxic shot informational meeting last week and heard testimony supporting and opposing the DNR's ban on non-toxic shot in Farmland WMA's in Western Minnesota. I provided my own testimony supporting the ban as a private citizen, although in the interest of full disclosure, I identified myself as working for the Raptor Resource Project. It was a fascinating meeting! The people who supported the ban were a very diverse group that included hunters, biologists, representatives from conservation and hunting-positive organizations, private citizens, and a gun range owner. An opinion piece on the issue by long-time supervisor of the DNR's non-game wildlife program Carroll Henderson can be found here: http://soarraptors.org/2016/03/op-ed-piece-from-carroll-henderson/.

While the DNR received many more letters supporting than opposing the ban, the issue is far from settled. Minnesotans, you can email comments to steve.merchant@state.mn.us.  You may also submit written comments to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources by mailing a letter/statement to:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Non-Toxic Shot Comments
500 Lafayette Road, Box 20
St. Paul, MN 55155-4020

Be sure to reference the March 10, 2016 non-toxic shot informational meeting.

Lead is toxic
Over and over during the process, I heard that the argument against lead shot was based on faulty science. That is not the case. A few links:
We have safe alternatives
We have affordable, safe alternatives to lead shot and tackle.  In 1991, the US Fish and Wildlife Service banned lead shot in waterfowl hunting. A survey of ducks on the Mississippi Flyway found that the ban on lead shot reduced lead poisoning deaths of Mississippi Flyway mallards by 64 percent, while overall ingestion of toxic pellets declined by 78 percent over previous levels. By significantly reducing lead shot ingestion in waterfowl, the ban prevented the lead poisoning deaths of approximately 1.4 million ducks in the 1997 fall flight of 90 million ducks. 

Did the ban on lead shot prevent successful waterfowl hunting? No. The total number of geese and ducks harvested nationwide declined steeply beginning in about 1984, but started rising again in roughly 1992, as shown by this chart: http://flyways.us/regulations-and-harvest/harvest-trends. Save our Avian Resources has an excellent page on the issue: http://soarraptors.org/hunt-and-fish-lead-free/

Can you buy non-lead shot affordably? Absolutely. Cabela's has a non-toxic catalog, Clark Armory sells non-toxic alternatives only, and California has a long list of certified non-lead ammunition: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition/Certified.

What about population impacts?
Why wait for population impacts? We know lead is toxic to us and to wildlife, and it is far more expensive to return and restore species than to provide them protection in the first place. It is something we can and should do. We would have saved a lot of time, money, and wildlife if we had tackled DDT earlier.

This is not about controlling guns or gun ownership. We aren't anti-gun, anti-sporting, or anti-hunting. Just anti-lead.

Thanks to Kay Neumann from Save Our Avian Resources and Dr. Pat Redig for all their work and research on this issue. They are truly leaders in this area! Thanks to the late Bob Anderson for doing so much to raise awareness of this issue among his friends and fans. 


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