Minnesota State Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn, Mary Kunesh-Podein, Susan Allen, Pete Fischer and Karen Clark have introduced HF 1356—a bill to ban the use and possession of traditional lead ammunition for deer hunting during the state’s regular firearms season. If passed, the ban will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
This follows the unsuccessful 2016 proposal by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ban traditional lead ammunition from thousands of acres of public hunting lands. According to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, that lead ban would have applied to “some 400,000 acres of wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the traditionally prairie parts of the state, known as the ‘farmland zone.’”
Last year’s attempt to outlaw lead shot was the second time in a decade the DNR tried such a ban, arguing that the toxic ammunition needs to be restricted to reduce its toxic effects on the environment. “In 2008, a bill in the state legislature that would have created a similar ban failed amid opposition from the National Rifle Association,” the Pioneer Press reported.
The NRA and many state and national conservation groups have opposed these proposals, including Pheasants Forever, based in St. Paul, Minn.
In a 2016 Pioneer Press editorial by Pheasants Forever member Darin Rahm, Rahm noted, “By the DNR’s own admission, there are no wildlife populations that are suffering from exposure to lead shot. … In the nine years since the DNR last tried to ban lead shot, they have not conducted any new research or discovered any new evidence to support their cause. If this issue is so important, one would think they would be conducting research and trying to find and measure mortality from lead shot ingestion, but they have not.”
According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), “As we have seen with attempts to ban the use of lead ammunition in other states, arguments in favor of these bans are based on faulty science. It is important to fully understand the facts concerning traditional hunting ammunition so Minnesotans are not misled into adopting a ban that could negatively impact the rich hunting heritage of Minnesota. There has been no sound scientific evidence stating that traditional ammunition is having a population-level impact on any species in Minnesota. To ensure proper conservation of species, wildlife must be managed with a fact-based approach.”
The good news for Minnesota hunters? Recently, NRA-backed Senate File 263 was offered by Minnesota State Senator Justin Eichorn (R-05) and co-sponsored by Senators Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-08), Mark Johnson (R-01), Andrew Lang (R-17) and Thomas Bakk (DFL-03). It is supported by the NRA.
“This bi-partisan bill would prohibit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources from limiting the use of lead shot in Minnesota,” explained NRA-ILA “Last year, your NRA-ILA fought on every level to prevent the DNR from imposing a ban in certain wildlife and wetland areas. SF 263 is exactly what your NRA-ILA was urging the legislature to do before they adjourned.”