Minnesota Bills Would Affect Lead Fishing Gear, Walleye Limits, and Deer Hunting
Minnesota lawmakers are in their long session, held every two years, which began on Jan.4 and is expected to end on May 17. So don’t expect something to happen too quickly, with multiple hearings on each bill before anything moves forward.
Bills must pass both the Senate and the House in the same form and then be signed by the Governor to become law.
The ban on lead fishing tackle, which has been introduced several times over the past decades but has yet to progress, addresses a chronic problem of lead poisoning of loons and other birds when birds ingest small sinkers and jigs lost by anglers while fishing.
Lead is a highly toxic substance, banned for years in gasoline and paint due to its lethal toxicity to humans, and also banned in hunting rifle ammunition for waterfowl hunting. Even a little lead sinker can kill loons, which ingest the chunks of lead while picking up small pebbles from the bottom of lakes and rivers that are used to digest their food.
The bills would ban the manufacture, sale and use of lead material weighing one ounce or less or less than 2.5 inches in length.
The bills give fishermen, shops and manufacturers more than three years – until July 1, 2024 – to transition to non-toxic items such as tungsten, brass or tin. The lead ban would not apply to larger sinkers, weights or jigs heavier than an ounce, or to lead fishing lines, larger bottom bouncers, spoons or other gear.
Several other states and provinces have already enacted similar bans on small lead fishing tackle.
Critics of a lead ban have said Minnesota’s loon population is not declining and that the move will cost anglers more money for lead substitutes like tungsten. But proponents say the cost increase is only pennies per unit, and all the loons killed by lead poisoning, when other hardware options exist, are too numerous.
The main sponsor of HF157 is Representative Peter Fisher, DFL-Maplewood. The main sponsor of SF247 is Senator Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.
- State Representative Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, introduced legislation to lower the state’s general walleye catch limit from six fish per day to four fish. The bill, HF100, would not impact lakes or rivers that already have special regulations or limits below walleye, such as Mille Lacs or Red Lake, but would impact waters where the limit current is six. The Senate version of the bill, SF12, was introduced by Senator Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point. The statewide limit for walleye has not changed in Minnesota since 1956, when it increased from eight to six.
- Ecklund is also the lead author of a bill already advanced on Capitol Hill that would expand the use of the rifle for deer hunting throughout the state, not just in the northern regions, by eliminating the rifle area. hunting game that has been around for decades in most parts of southern and far western Minnesota. .
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- Bob Meier, the DNR’s deputy commissioner for policy and government relations, testified in support of the provision on Tuesday, saying it simplifies statewide regulation. Ecklund’s bill, HF219, also addresses issues of chronic wasting disease, expands a provision banning the importation of deer and elk carcasses, and includes changes to the regulation of mouth loaders.
- HF119, introduced by Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield, and SF283, introduced by Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, would allow hunters to substitute a valid port permit instead of having a firearms safety certificate . Firearms safety certificates are currently required for anyone born since 1980 before they can purchase a state hunting license.
- HF320, presented by Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, would provide $ 1 million to MNR over the next two years for a new grant program to local school districts to improve gun safety, hunting, archery and fishing activities as part of physical activities education course.