In Sunday's online version of the Winona Daily News, community columnist and retired educator Scott Lowery writes in Lead, loons, and loonies:
. . . I also learned on a visit to the National Eagle Center last winter that Bald Eagles are at risk for lead poisoning from lead ammunition in deer carcasses and gut piles. A quick Google search pulls up this data from the University of MN Raptor Center: 90 percent of eagles coming into treatment have high lead levels in their blood, and of these, 20-25 percent will die from lead poisoning. In his Winona presentation, Henderson pointed out that humans are also at risk from lead ammunition, especially where rifles are allowed for hunting deer, because a lead rifle shell can disintegrate into fragments too small to detect in venison.
It seems pretty obvious to me that we should applaud conservation efforts to move away from lead tackle and ammunition. Surely, I thought, this is an area where even Democrats and Republicans can agree.
Shortly afterwards, I read that a Republican-sponsored bill (Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Finance bill, HF888) had passed in the State House that keeps the DNR from imposing limits on lead ammunition. I contacted my Representative, Steve Drazkowski, thinking he might share my concerns.
No such luck. He emailed back to say that he supported the measure, stating “Lead shot has not been proven to be a threat to people or animals...except when it exits the muzzle of a shotgun at 1200 fps. The radical environmental groups will bring forward rhetoric that suggests otherwise.”
So I’m left with a couple more disturbing pieces of knowledge. My elected Representative thinks that organizations like the Raptor Center, the Eagle Center, and the MN Department of Natural Resources are “radical environmental groups.” He also presumably thinks that a dinner laced with lead fragments would be perfectly safe for a human, eagle or loon.
Let’s get the lead out of our tackle boxes and hunting equipment. And next time around, let’s get the loonies out of state government. I know that I live in a heavily conservative district, but surely there are lots of conservatives who are also conservationists! . . .
His column and Draz's response recalls the debate on an amendment by state representative and hunter Jamie Becker Finn that would have stripped pro-lead and anti-science language from the environment and natural resources omnibus bill. We chronicled the Great Moment in Minnesota House Brawndo Swilling in our post, Lead shot debate: bald eagles keep dying and here's what the MN House had to say about it.
The full video of the debate is embedded there, but we'll leave readers with the Mazeppa Republican's remarks about how all the lead shot in the wild game he and his family have eaten has caused no harm--and the only toxicity from lead is when it's blasted from the muzzle of a shotgun:
Perhaps Representative Drazkowski could head to Flint, MI, and tell folks there not to worry about the water.
For more on this anti-science malarky in the Minnesota legislature, check out MN rep says lead is a-okay because it's natural; or, poisoning is life on Planet Josh Heintzeman and The Timberjay on lead: Heintzeman may be a loon, but he has plenty of company in St. Paul.
Photo: An eagle dying of lead poisoning. Via American Cherokee.
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