Minnesota DNR Bans Lead Ammo on Some Public Hunting Areas, Federal Ammo Issues Letter Supporting Hunters

Minnesota DNR Bans Lead Ammo on Some Public Hunting Areas, Federal Ammo Issues Letter Supporting Hunters

Over the past several years we’ve frequently covered ongoing efforts by anti-hunting groups and some within the federal government to ban the use of conventional lead ammunition on many federal lands where hunting is allowed. Now a state with a grand hunting heritage has jumped on the poorly researched lead ban bandwagon.

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) instated an order prohibiting the use of traditional lead-based ammunition in all state Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) that allow hunting. The ban also includes several state parks and other SNA’s that hold special hunting events—56 affected properties in total.

The new order, which was passed without legislative consent but has the force of law, will negatively affect thousands of hunters who have historically hunted on those properties.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, such a ban would make hunting more difficult and more expensive for hunters who want to access these public lands. Non-lead ammunition, often made of copper alloys, is routinely cited as being at least 25 percent more expensive than traditional lead varieties. Non-lead ammunition also can be very difficult to find at retail operations as there simply is not that much of it made compared to traditional lead ammunition. The non-lead options available for centerfire rifle ammunition, for example, are limited to certain popular calibers.

Federal Ammunition, one of America’s top hunting ammo manufacturers based in Anoka, Minn., recently released an open letter to Commissioner Sarah Strommen of the Minnesota DNR condemning the action by the state wildlife agency and calling for the rule to be withdrawn.

“Minnesota DNR policy should focus on maintaining and growing hunting opportunities for all, not catering to the opinions of the extremes,” wrote Jason Vanderbrink, president and CEO of the Sporting Products section of Vista Outdoors, Federal’s parent company. “This DNR decision was made in isolation—no alternative viewpoints or stakeholder perspectives considered. An issue as important as this should have full transparency as well as stakeholder input and should be determined through the legislative process and not via agency directives. Constituents have no recourse and therefore cannot hold anyone accountable at the ballot box.”

At a time when various stakeholders are struggling to keep hunter participation numbers stable, Vanderbrink said erecting more barriers to hunting is not a wise policy.

“This action builds barriers to resident and non-resident enjoyment of our hunting heritage and the great outdoors,” he wrote. “It will contribute to a price spike for Minnesota ammunition consumers. Alternative hunting ammunition made of copper, tungsten or bismuth is significantly more expensive to manufacture and to purchase than traditional counterparts.”

In the end, Vanderbrink said the board passing such an action based on no scientific backing and with no public input should result in the board rethinking the ban.

“In summary, this decision is made in contradiction to the science as it creates no measurable wildlife benefit,” Vanderbrink concluded, a fact repeatedly noted on this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website. “It dismisses strong Minnesotan American jobs while promoting unnecessary and intensive resource extraction. This is yet another razor’s cut at an outright ban of traditional ammunition, and ultimately, hunting as a scientific management tool.

“We respectfully request that this rule be withdrawn and request a meeting with you, your staff and the governor. This order did not include a legislative process, public comment period or industry dialogue and the only certain result is harming hunters, Minnesota’s work force and the future of wildlife management funding in Minnesota.”

According to media reports, DNR staff has agreed to meet with Federal Ammunition representatives to discuss the matter. Please stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, to read the open letter from Vanderbrink to Commissioner Strommen of the Minnesota DNR in its entirety, click here.

Editor’s Note: The hunting community owes a big thank-you to Jason Vanderbrink and Vista Outdoor for standing with American hunters in support of science and the future of hunting and wildlife conservation. As also noted by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, a decrease in the purchase of traditional ammunition would adversely affect wildlife conservation funding as hunters and target shooters remain the largest supporters of conservation through excise taxes levied on ammunition, firearms and hunting equipment by the Pittman-Robertson Act (P-R) of 1937. State fish and wildlife agencies such as the Minnesota DNR have received more than $15 billion in P-R funding to date.—KMP

About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.