Time to get lead out

There has been a lot in the news lately over lead in the White Bear Lake area due to Water Gremlin.

What many Minnesotans don’t know is that many residents continue to inadvertently discard lead into the environment through pursuit of recreational activities, specifically when fishing and hunting. These actions can have tragic consequences for wildlife, as well as have an impact on humans, principally young children and pregnant women.

In 1991, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the use of lead shot when hunting waterfowl. This was after documenting that up to 2 million waterfowl died annually from the ingestion of lead shot while feeding.

Lead is a neurotoxin — that is, a poison that acts on the nervous system, causing physical and cognitive damage.

Our state bird, the loon, is similarly poisoned by ingesting sinkers made of lead. While Minnesota has the largest loon population in the lower 48 states, it has yet to follow the lead of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York, which all ban the use of lead sinkers.

On Feb. 21, 2018, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released the results of a study regarding the amount of lead estimated to have been discharged into the environment by small game hunters annually. The study, which was commissioned by the Minnesota Legislature, was conducted through person-to-person interviews with hunters in the field and through mail surveys.

The results of the DNR study were astounding. The study estimated that 178 tons (357,048 pounds) of lead were discharged on state lands in one year.

This amount does not account for lead bullets and shotgun slugs used to take big game. Similar to waterfowl, birds and animals that feed on gut piles from big game (primarily deer) ingest lead fragments and may also die. The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota sees a spike in sick eagles soon after the close of the deer season. Most have elevated levels of lead. Nationwide, it is estimated that between 10-20 million wild animals die from ingesting lead each year.

As a fisherman and hunter for 61 years, I made the switch to nontoxic shot for both activities many years ago. I continue to enjoy hunting and fishing and on the opener of this deer season, once again demonstrated the effectiveness of nontoxic shot when harvesting a nice whitetail buck.

It’s time to get the lead out of the environment. I urge all hunters and fisherpersons to take the step and switch to nontoxic alternatives for ammunition and fishing accessories. I also encourage you to contact your legislators and urge them to pass legislation to ban the use of lead when fishing and hunting. The future of our outdoor heritage depends on it.

Bob Djupstrom

White Bear Lake


Make schools more secure

Dear White Bear Lake School Board members,

As a homeowner, parent and grandparent in the ISD No. 624 for over 30 years, I challenge the school board to begin the process to make our school buildings the most secure buildings in the nation. Brand new facilities alone will not keep our occupants safe.

We have seen changes in security at our airports; at all major sports facilities and at our workplaces in the metropolitan region. It is now time for ISD No. 624 to lead the nation in creating a more secure and safer culture for our public school building occupants. Be courageous leaders.

David Chapdelaine

White Bear Township


Appreciate climate 

change news

I appreciated your printing of the political cartoon of Nov. 13 depicting Uncle Sam's (i.e. the current U.S. administration’s) denial of climate change, as well as Rita Erickson’s series based on the Climate Reality Project training. Climate change is the most serious problem facing humanity. All Americans, regardless of political affiliation, should be working together to mitigate carbon emissions. After all, 98% of all climate scientists agree that climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. 

Louis Asher

Vadnais Heights


Our Native Americans?

Thank you, Gene Johnson, for your Thanksgiving "Time to reflect," especially your celebration of the First Amendment freedom of speech and your meaningful gratitude quotes. I will use my freedom of speech to question just one word: "Our." Referring to the Pilgrims, your sentence was "Our Native Americans were there to help them." The original residents of this land were not "ours." They were here for thousands of years before our ancestors even knew they existed. It's possible that without them, the early Pilgrims might not have survived. 

That said, I too, am grateful for our cherished freedom of speech where we can express ourselves freely and respectfully.

Harvey Bartz

White Bear Lake

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