Environmental and conservation groups petitioned the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) earlier this fall requesting the agency initiate rulemaking to ban lead. The petition asked three things:

• Ban possession and use of lead or other toxic fishing tackle on Minnesota waters located within the common loon range;

• Prohibit taking of wild animals within Minnesota while possessing or using bullets containing lead or other toxic materials; and 

• Prohibit taking of wild animals within Minnesota with shotshells other than those loaded with steel shot, copper-plated shot, nickel-plated shot, zinc-plated steel shot or shot made of other nontoxic materials approved by the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

After careful consideration of the petition and review of more than 20 years of data and stakeholder input related to this subject, the DNR issued a decision Nov. 4 denying the petition. 

The DNR based its decision on multiple factors, which are detailed in a Decision and Findings of Fact document available at mndnr.gov/hunting/ammo/nts.html. These factors included limitations in the DNR’s rulemaking authority, the petition’s lack of data concerning the impact of the proposed rule, the lack of demonstrated broad stakeholder support and the DNR’s conclusion that potential restrictions on the use of lead ammunition and tackle should be considered by the Minnesota Legislature.

Consistent with the approach taken in most other states that have imposed restrictions on lead ammunition and tackle, the DNR believes the use of lead ammunition and tackle is best addressed by the Minnesota Legislature. A decision of this magnitude must involve engagement with the full range of stakeholders that could be affected by the decision. 

While the DNR has denied the petition for rulemaking, the agency believes the human health and environmental impacts of lead ammunition and tackle do warrant further study and discussion. The DNR is committed to working with the petitioners, legislators, tribal governments, hunters and anglers to facilitate a more inclusive conversation on the possibility of future restrictions on the use of lead and other toxic ammunition and tackle. 

Press release

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