Minnesota DNR Repeals Partial Lead Ammunition Ban

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States

Why It Matters: Because alternative ammunition options are often more costly and limited or difficult for hunters to obtain, bans like the one recently repealed in Minnesota can create a barrier for participation. With fewer hunters able to participate, the crucial role that hunting plays in wildlife management is diminished, both in population control and in state agency funding.

The Minnesota DNR adopted an emergency rule to repeal a new requirement that would have banned hunters from using lead ammunition when participating in special hunts or disease-management hunts in State Parks or in Scientific and Natural Areas. Without this repeal, hunters would have also been banned from using lead ammunition during regular hunts in Scientific and Natural Areas.

Alternatives to lead ammunition can be expensive and difficult to obtain, so bans on traditional lead ammunition can create barriers for hunters to participate in our time-honored traditions. Such barriers reduce the positive benefits that hunters contribute to conservation. This impact is especially significant in Minnesota, where in 2021 alone, hunters and anglers generated more than $103 million through the “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding, ranking 4th in the country. Additionally, state agencies rely on hunting as the preferred wildlife management tool, so fewer hunters afield may jeopardize management objectives.  

The Minnesota DNR has denied multiple petitions in recent years calling for broad bans on lead ammunition and tackle, but still expressed support for alternatives in this statement earlier this year. If a state legislature or agency seeks to implement policies that transition hunters away from traditional lead ammunition, the many benefits that hunters bring to conservation must be given heavy consideration.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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