Officials in the executive branch of state government say they want legislators to make the call on a new hunting regulation, one that would ban lead shot in Iowa.
Critics say the lead shot that doesn’t wind up in a dead animal often winds up being eaten off the ground by another animal, causing severe distress or death from lead poisoning. Neila Seaman of the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter says there’s danger to humans, too.
“Lead bullets explode and fragment into minute particles in shot game and can spread throughout meat that humans eat,” Seaman says. “Studies using radiographs show that numerous and perceptible 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.”
Willie Suchy of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says his agency has the authority to require “non-toxic” shot be used for hunting “waterfowl”, but the Branstad administration wants legislators to make that decision rather than the bureaucrats.
“There is discussion about and there have been studies that show lead can be an issue on certain areas with high hunter numbers and shot,” Suchy says. “So it’s an issue that’s obviously being looked at.”
But looking is as far as the agency wants to go, according to Suchy. They’re waiting for legislators to make the final call and Suchy made that clear to a panel of lawmakers this afternoon.
“Based on the conversations we’ve had with the governor’s office. they would prefer that it would go through the legislature and that you all would have the beginning and ending say on that,” Suchy said. “We have legal authority…to address those issues, but I think it’s something that we would much prefer you to make the decision on.”
The Iowa House considered a proposal earlier this year which would have banned the use of lead shot during Iowa’s soon-to-be-established dove hunting season, but only 30 House of the 100 House members voted for the new restriction. Some surrounding states have taken steps to ban lead shot in heavily hunted areas, like publicly-owned game preserves.