News release: Minnesota DNR to require nontoxic ammunition for state park special deer hunts, 56 SNAs that allow hunting

July 20, 2023

People participating in special hunts in state parks and recreation areas or hunting in those scientific and natural areas where hunting is allowed, will be required to use nontoxic ammunition starting this fall. Peatland SNAs are exempt from this requirement. Due to shortages in certain ammunition types, this requirement also will not apply to state park youth deer hunts in the shotgun zone if hunters remove all parts of harvested deer, including the entrails.

State statute provides the highest level of protection for natural resources, including wildlife and natural features, in state parks and SNAs. Hunting is not a primary purpose of state parks and SNAs, and is only allowed if it is consistent with or helps advance the management of natural resources on these lands. Deer hunting is allowed through commissioner’s order or state statute on SNAs, and state park special hunts require a special use permit. State parks and SNAs account for less than 10% of DNR-managed lands in Minnesota. 

Requiring nontoxic ammunition will help protect species from lead poisoning — such as eagles, ravens, hawks and bobcats — that might ingest ammunition or feed on deer gut piles. Lead poisoning can cause neurologic impacts to wildlife, leading to injury and death. Additionally, use of nontoxic ammunition will protect the environment of these sites from lead leaching into the soil and waters via gut piles or spent ammunition remaining on site.

Nontoxic ammunition includes bullets, slugs, muzzleloader ammunition and shot that do not contain lead. More information is available at the Minnesota DNR’s non-toxic ammunition webpage.

Hunters who plan to participate in state park special hunts, or hunt in an SNA where hunting is allowed and nontoxic ammunition is required, should purchase their non-toxic ammunition early to ensure they have it in time for the hunt in which they will participate.

Hunters in Minnesota who do not wish to use nontoxic ammunition have abundant options for hunting in locations with no ammunition restrictions, such as wildlife management areas and state forests.

The Minnesota DNR also continues to encourage the use of nontoxic ammunition and tackle on all Minnesota lands and waters.

To learn more about state park special hunts, including how to register, see the special hunts section toward the bottom of the Minnesota DNR’s deer hunting webpage. To learn which SNAs allow hunting, visit the SNA rules website.

For questions about the above information or other DNR-related topics, contact the Minnesota DNR Information Center at [email protected] or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

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