Citizens worried about lead poisoning eagles--the U of M's Raptor Center's discussion is here--or stunting the growth of children's brains can just get over it, if Nisswa Republican state representative Josh Heintzemann is to be believed.
In Monday's Brainerd Dispatch article, Ruud, Heintzeman differ on environment policy, Zach Kayser reports:
. . . An existing lead shot ban in waterfowl hunting was legislated by state lawmakers in 1987 but the DNR wanted to expand that ban unilaterally, he said. And if the lead shot ban were to come before the Legislature, it would be voted down, he said.
"I don't think there's any support for it," he said. "I don't think even a lot of (DFL legislators) would be interested in that, if it came down to a vote."
"Lead is a naturally occurring mineral, it's in the soil, it's mined just like anything else," he added later.
The DNR's proposed non-toxic shot rule would expand the ban to all small-game hunting, but it would count only for shotgun shells with shot in them, not single-projectile loads—so rifle bullets and shotgun slugs could still be made of lead. It would also be limited to Minnesota wildlife management lands from Highway 210 in Brainerd to the southern border.
Note how Heintzeman frames the issue as a complete ban on lead shot, but the proposed restrictions are limited to Minnesota wildlife management lands in part of the state. Heintzeman fears the talking point, but not the well-known problems of lead poisoning. Kayser continues:
Animals like eagles and loons can be poisoned if they ingest lead shot, the DNR said.
Okay then. Applying Heintzeman's logic to other natural substances, Minnesotans can quit worrying and learn to love the bomb, since all that uranium is a naturally occurring mineral and people mine it.
Radon gas in your basement? Don't worry. Be happy. It's naturally occurring and it comes from the soil around you. Poisonous ivy? Don't sweat it; it's natural.
At the beginning of the month, Bluestem looked at this provision in Lead shot debate: bald eagles keep dying and here's what the MN House had to say about it.
Read it and weep, then contact members of the Environment/Natural Resources conference committee and tell them to knock it off on the House language. A lot can happen in a conference committee, as we noted in It's magic! Fabian's omnibus enviro budget bill sets stage for future conference committee fun.
There does seems to be a voice of reason on the committee, Kayser reports in the Dispatch:
[Senator Carrie] Ruud[, R-Breezy Point] also had strong words for her Senate colleagues regarding a provision that would bar the Department of Natural Resources from issuing new rules restricting lead shot. Ruud chairs the Senate's environmental policy committee, and the lead shot bill never was run through her committee to receive scrutiny and discussion in a hearing. She said the "trickery" of fellow senators resulted in an end run around her committee.
"I think that's very dishonest," she said.
Another part of the bill appropriates $20,000 for a study on the effects of lead shot on wildlife that live in state lands. While Ruud supported the study—she said the existing data on lead shot is outdated—she opposed the Legislature banning the DNR from banning lead shot before the study was implemented.
Here are the members of the conference committee for HF888/SF0723. Click through on the hot links and let the members know your thoughts about lead policy. Be civil--no cussing or spitting on the floor:
According to the current Minnesota Legislature's schedule, the conference committee next meets on Tuesday, April 25, at 1:00 p.m. in Senate Office Building 5.
If you need motivation to contact them, here's a short Youtube of an eagle afflicted with lead poisoning, via the Raptor Center's page on Lead Poisoning which notes "For the past 40 years lead exposure and lead poisoning have been major health issues for bald eagles received by or admitted to our clinic::
Let's hope that the guys will listen to the woman on the committee, and follow her lead on this issue. Quote the Brainerd Dispatch article--which frames the differences nicely--and mention the bills by name.
Photo: An eagle dying of lead poisoning. Via American Cherokee.
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