By Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Some local hunters are speaking out against a proposed ban on lead shotgun pellets in certain parts of Minnesota.

The state Department of Natural Resources wants to cut the amount of lead that winds up in the environment, harming waterfowl, but some hunters dispute the science and argue that lead shot works better than steel, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1WeCY46 ) reported.

The proposal would affect small game hunting in wildlife management areas, dubbed “farmland zone,” stretching from the northwest corner through the southern two-thirds of the state.

Lead shotgun pellets would be banned, but not single projectile ammunition, such as shotgun slugs or rifle bullets made of lead.

Environmental groups support the department’s proposal to require hunters to use steel or other non-toxic ammunition. At the department’s question and answer session on Thursday, Audubon Minnesota conservation manager Kristin Hall said birds are poisoned when they eat lead.



“If it’s ingested by eagles that are eating carrion that may have been shot or ingested by regular birds that are out there grazing and are using small pebbles in their gizzards for digestion, then it becomes a real problem,” she said.

Minnesota banned lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1987, and it has been considering extending the ban to other small game since 2006.

But some hunters claim there’s no sound reason to make the change, and they argue that there are practical reasons for sticking with lead birdshot.

“Lead is a more dense metal and it hits harder. It retains more energy in flight. And so an equal sized pellet in lead would hit harder than a same sized pellet in steel,” said Joel Schnell of north St. Paul.

The department doesn’t plan to make any changes until the measure is considered by the Minnesota Legislature, according to Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Section chief Paul Telander.

“If they decide to take up the issue then we’ll let that play out legislatively,” he said.

But if lawmakers fon’t act this session, the department might take the next step in implementing the ban, Telander said.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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