Lead is toxic, and there are effective and affordable alternatives to lead shot.
Many hunters who regularly access both state and federal land already use non-toxic shot, reducing the possibility of violations when unintentionally possessing lead shot in federal Waterfowl Production Areas. Since 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prohibited the use of lead shot on all WPAs in Minnesota.
Science has proven beyond doubt that exposure to lead is harmful, resulting in restrictions on the use of lead in gasoline and paints as well as restricting imports of products containing lead.
There is a growing body of evidence that lead shot from shotgun shells is a direct, contributing factor to wildlife mortality and secondary poisoning. More than 100 species of upland birds, waterfowl and raptors are known to have ingested lead shot.
There are at least 15 international studies, eight of them in Canada, that link lead shot in game animals to higher levels of lead in people who eat those game animals.
There are effective and affordable alternatives to lead shot. Studies have demonstrated that steel shot, the most commonly available alternative and the least expensive, is equally effective when hunting waterfowl. Steel is also a very effective pheasant load. Already, 40 percent of Minnesota's pheasant hunters use steel shot.
The DNR's Nontoxic Shot Advisory Committee agreed that a ban on lead shot is inevitable. Minnesota should be a nationwide leader in this effort, following its own example of banning lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1987 – four years before the federal government completed enactment of its ban.
More than 1.3 million acres in 23 states already have non-toxic shot requirements above and beyond what the federal government requires for waterfowl hunting. In fact, both South Dakota and Nebraska each have 400,000 acres where non-toxic shot is required.