Will Branstad overrule ban on lead shot for dove hunting?

Iowans will be able to hunt mourning doves statewide beginning September 1, but hunters will not be allowed to use lead shot, under rules the Iowa Natural Resource Commission approved today. Doves were protected in Iowa for nearly a century, but the Iowa House and Senate approved a bill legalizing dove hunting in March, using sneaky legislative procedures. The Department of Natural Resources later drafted rules for a 70-day season from September 1 through November 9, and the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee let those rules stand.

The Iowa Natural Resource Commission is connected to the DNR, but the seven commission members are appointed by the governor to six-year, staggered terms. The three Republicans, three Democrats and one independent on the commission voted unanimously to ban lead shot. Six of the seven voted for the whole block of dove-hunting rules; Johnson County Supervisor Janelle Rettig dissented.

The commission may not have the final word on lead shot. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action put out an action alert today denouncing commissioners for jumping “in the political bed with anti-hunting extremists.” The NRA denies scientific evidence about lead’s harmful effects on wildlife, and views ammunition regulations as part of a radical anti-gun environmentalist agenda. The NRA wants members to ask Governor Terry Branstad to overrule the commission’s decision. In April, Branstad heeded the NRA’s advice and overruled an Iowa Natural Resource Commission proposal to ban lead shot on “numerous state and federal wildlife areas across Iowa.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has banned the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting since 1991 and estimates that millions of premature wildlife deaths have been prevented. Bald eagles are “particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning” because of their feeding habits. This article explains how lead shot poisons eagles, swans and other birds in Iowa and across the country.

After the jump I’ve posted the Department of Natural Resources’ announcement of the new dove hunting rules, the NRA’s action alert, and excerpts from the Sierra Club Iowa chapter’s public comment seeking a ban on lead ammunition. Iowans who care about protecting wildlife from lead poisoning should ask Branstad to let the dove hunting rules stand. You can contact the governor by calling 515-281-5211 or writing to 1007 East Grand Ave, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.

Iowa DNR press release:

Commission Approves Dove Hunting, Adds Non-Toxic Shot Requirement

Posted: 07/14/2011

DES MOINES – Final approval of a rule that will allow the hunting of mourning doves in Iowa was approved Thursday by the Iowa Natural Resource Commission which also added an amendment that would require hunters to use non-toxic shot.

The non-toxic shot requirement follows several discussions by the commission during the past year concerning the impacts of lead shot to the environment and on wildlife. Lead – or toxic – shot used in hunting can be ingested by wildlife. There has been a national ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting since 1991 with non-toxic shot for waterfowl being in place in Iowa since 1987.

The rules approved by the commission allow for a dove season starting Sept. 1st and ending Nov. 9th. The final rule allows the harvest of 15 doves a day and can be either mourning or Eurasian collared-doves. The possession limit is 30 and the season is open state-wide.

Commissioners added and approved an amendment on Thursday that would require hunters to only use non-toxic shot while hunting doves anywhere in the state of Iowa.

The decision to ban toxic shot for dove hunting was based largely on the fact that much of the hunting occurs over a small area which would increase the likelihood of lead concentrations being created.

“There will be a number of hunters who will be opposed to this decision, but at the end of the day, this action by the commission will help protect Iowa’s environment and wildlife from the adverse affects of lead,” said DNR Director Roger Lande.

National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action statement:

Iowa Natural Resources Commission Bans Traditional Ammunition During Dove Season

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Earlier today, the Iowa Natural Resources Commission gave final approval to the establishment of a dove season to begin on September 1.  However, the Commission felt it necessary to add an amendment that will now ban the use of traditional ammunition when dove hunting.

The Commission has taken a page straight out of the anti-hunting extremist groups’ playbook to deter hunting through traditional ammunition bans.  Anti-conservation fanatics failed at the federal level after the EPA rejected their lead-ban petition and have now placed their focus on Iowa knowing that doves are the most popular and abundant game bird hunted in America.  This traditional ammunition ban is designed to price hunters out of the market and keep them from taking part in traversing Iowa’s fields and forests after the historic dove hunting legislation passed this year.

The Commission does not cite any scientific studies showing negative effects of traditional ammunition and has simply jumped in the political bed with anti-hunting extremists.  Just look at what Iowa’s DNR Director, Roger Lande, had to say about the ban in the Commission’s press release: “There will be a number of hunters who will be opposed to this decision, but at the end of the day, this action by the commission will help protect Iowa’s environment and wildlife from the adverse affects of lead.”  Dove populations are doing better than ever all while the vast majority of states allow traditional ammunition for dove hunting.

This amendment is the same position the Commission took earlier this year when it attempted to ban the use of lead shot on numerous state and federal wildlife areas across Iowa and said that they would “begin limiting the use of lead for all hunting and fishing on all public areas.”  The Commission is blatantly subverting the will of the legislature, where the state House debated the lead issue and overwhelmingly rejected it.

Also, the Iowa DNR has a section on its website titled “Get the Lead Out” which has language eerily similar to the Center for Biological Diversity (“Get the Lead Out”) campaign – and yes, this is a propaganda piece written by the group that petitioned the EPA to ban all lead and traditional ammunition in America!

The Commission’s first attempt at a traditional ammunition ban was defeated with Governor Terry Branstad’s help, but this amendment has made their intentions clear.  Please contact Governor Branstad today and urge him to once again step in and stop this attack on traditional ammunition.  To contact the Governor, please click here.

Excerpt from public comments submitted by Sierra Club Iowa chapter director Neila Seaman on May 11, 2011:

Lead shot ingestion in mourning doves has been well documented in scientific research for more than 50 years. In 1999, the US Fish and Wildlife Service reported that “mourning doves are particularly likely to ingest spent lead shot.” Ingestion of spent lead shot is recognized as a significant problem due to the harmful toxic effects and high mortality rate among victims. In wildlife, primary and secondary consumption is known to directly or indirectly impact populations through acute or chronic lead poisoning. Primary poisoning is defined as poisoning that occurs after lead shot is ingested from soil or vegetation. Secondary poisoning occurs when predators and scavengers ingest lead shot while feeding on wildlife containing lead pellets.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette also quoted Missouri Department of Conservation resource scientist John Schulz who said a survey conducted on dove hunting at a managed field near Kansas City found 800 hunters fired 40,000 rounds to kill 1200 to 1400 doves. It is no wonder ammunition deposits in dove fields is a lingering environmental management problem with an accumulative effect. This effect represents a real threat to populations of mourning doves as well as other wildlife populations feeding in the area.

Additional lead shot in the environment is already a concern for Bald Eagles and other species of life. An estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States. This occurs when animals scavenge on carcasses shot and contaminated with lead bullet fragments, or pick up and eat spent lead-shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit. Some animals die a painful death from lead poisoning while others suffer for years from its debilitating effects.

Lead ammunition also poses health risks to humans. Lead bullets explode and fragment into minute particles in shot game and can spread throughout meat that humans eat. Studies using radiographs show that numerous, imperceptible, dust-sized particles of lead can infect meat up to a foot and a half away from the bullet wound, causing a greater health risk to humans who consume lead-shot game than previously thought. A recent study found that up to 87 percent of cooked game killed by lead ammunition can contain unsafe levels of lead. State health agencies have had to recall venison donated to feed the hungry because of lead contamination from lead bullet fragments. Hunters, their families and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations may be at risk.

If a season is established, the use of lead shot should be prohibited for hunting mourning doves, and no hunting of mourning doves should be allowed by Iowa DNR until there is a statewide ban on the use of lead shot.

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