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For now, lead shot is still legal

By John Weiss

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

The lead bill is dead for this year.

The Department of Natural Resources had asked legislators to approve requiring non-toxic shot for small game on public lands in agricultural parts of the state beginning in about three years, said Ed Boggess, assistant DNR wildlife supervisor.

Instead, the Legislature decided not to act on that this year, in part because some legislators thought more study was needed.

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The idea, however, isn’t dead. "We still think it’s a reasonable approach," Boggess said. Twenty-three other states, including South Dakota and Nebraska, have had some kind of ban on lead, he said.

Lead has been banned nationwide for waterfowl hunting for about 20 years because ducks, geese and other fowl pick it up off the bottom and it can kill them. Also, non-toxic shot is already required on federal waterfowl production areas — even for pheasant hunters — so a ban on all lead shot for small-game hunting would get rid of a patchwork of regulations, he said.

A committee of non-DNR people said a ban on lead is inevitable, so it’s time to begin planning for it.

As for the sudden concern about lead in bullets used by deer hunters, nothing has been done, he said. Lead particles were found in some venison donated to food shelves, and that meat was thrown out. The DNR is working with the departments of agriculture and health to see if the problem is with processing or if it’s a problem with the bullets themselves.

MUSKIE MEETING: Discussion of the new DNR long-range plan for muskies and northern pike will be a prime topic at 7 p.m. May 8 at Bullheads Bar and Grill, 256 Main Street W. in Waterville.

DNR officials will be there to explain the plan and offer input. The discussion is part of the monthly meeting of the Southern Crossroads Chapter 54 of Muskies Inc.

TROUT ECONOMICS: A Trout Unlimited study found recreational trout angling in the Driftless Area generates more than $1.1 billion in local economic activity.

The area includes southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, southwest Wisconsin and northwest Illinois.

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TU did the study to show how important fishing is and to try to get more interest in angling tourism. It also wants to convince county, state and federal conservation officials that more stream management is needed.

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