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DNR rejects petition for lead ammo, tackle ban

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An X-ray shows a loon skeleton with a lead fishing lure inside
This 2013 X-ray shows a common loon found on Cape Cod with lead fishing lure inside.
Tufts Wildlife Clinic

The Department of Natural Resources has rejected environmental groups’ petition to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle in Minnesota.

Conservation and environmental groups pushed the DNR for a ban due to the lead’s threat as a toxin for humans and wildlife. But the agency said the proposed rules were too broad and didn’t come with enough data to prove they’d be successful and necessary.

Tom Casey, board chair of Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas, wrote the petition and said he’s disappointed in the agency’s decision.

“Instead of taking responsible steps to alleviate the toxic effects of lead, the DNR has, instead, made a vague promise to ‘facilitate a more inclusive conversation on the possibility of future restrictions on the use of lead and other toxic ammunition and tackle,’” Casey said, quoting from a DNR email sent to him.

Earlier Environmentalists push Minnesota to ban lead bullets, tackle over health concerns

Animals can get lead poisoning by inadvertently ingesting the chemical, often by scavenging on other animals shot by lead ammunition or who swallowed lead tackle. It happens often to eagles and loons.

Casey and others have unsuccessfully pushed the DNR for similar lead bans in the past. 

The DNR told Casey it “believes the human health and environmental impacts of lead ammunition and tackle do warrant further study and discussion,” but it did not have enough information to enact a lead ban.

Cost issues were among the DNR’s concerns. The agency said it has found that non-lead shot is generally more expensive than lead shot and that it lacked data on cost differences for lead vs. non-lead ammunition and fishing tackle.

The DNR said a lead ban like the petitioners requested would be an issue for the state Legislature to consider.