ST. PAUL — Minnesota state lawmakers are starting to talk about more than COVID-19 and fight each other, with legislation introduced in recent weeks that would ban the use of small fishing jigs and sinkers in lead and another bill to reduce the state’s general walleye catch limit from six fish to four.
Minnesota lawmakers are in their long session, held every two years, which began Jan. 4 and is scheduled to end May 17. So don’t expect anything to happen too quickly, with multiple hearings on each bill before anything moves forward. .
Bills must be passed by the Senate and the House in the same form and then signed by the governor to become law.
The lead fishing tackle ban, which has been introduced several times over the past few decades but still hasn’t progressed, addresses a chronic problem of lead poisoning of loons and other birds when birds ingest small sinkers and jigs lost by fishermen while fishing.
Lead is a highly toxic substance, banned for years in gasoline and paint due to its fatal toxicity to humans and also banned in shotgun ammunition for waterfowl hunting. Even a small lead sinker can kill loons, which ingest the pieces of lead while picking up small pebbles from the bottom of lakes and rivers that are used to digest their food.
The bills would prohibit the manufacture, sale and use of lead paraphernalia one ounce or less or less than 2.5 inches in length.
The bills give anglers, stores and manufacturers more than three years – until July 1, 2024 – to transition to non-toxic items such as tungsten, brass or pewter. The lead ban would not apply to sinkers larger, weights or jigs heavier than an ounce, or lead-core fishing lines, larger bottom bouncers, spoons or jigs. other apparatus.
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 the move would cost anglers more for lead substitutes like tungsten. But proponents say the cost increase is only pennies per unit and that all the loons killed by lead poisoning, when there are other options for tackle, are too many.
The main sponsor for HF157 is Rep. Peter Fisher, DFL-Maplewood. SF247’s main sponsor is Senator Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.
- State Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, introduced a bill to lower the general walleye bag limit from six fish per day to four fish. The bill, HF100, would not impact lakes or rivers that already have special regulations or lower limits for walleye, such as Mille Lacs or Red Lake, but would impact waters where the current limit is six. The Senate version of the bill, SF12, was introduced by Senator Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point. The statewide walleye limit has not changed in Minnesota since 1956, when it was reduced from eight to six.
- Ecklund is also the lead author of a bill already advanced on Capitol Hill that would expand rifle use for deer hunting across the state, not just in northern areas, eliminating the designated area for hunting rifles. hunt that has existed for decades throughout much of southern and far western Minnesota. .
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- Bob Meier, the DNR’s assistant commissioner for policy and government relations, testified Tuesday in favor of the provision, saying it simplifies statewide regulation. Ecklund’s bill, HF219, also addresses chronic wasting disease issues, expands a provision prohibiting the importation of deer and elk carcasses, and includes changes to mouthloading regulations.
- HF119, introduced by Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield, and SF283, introduced by Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, would allow hunters to replace a valid carry license instead of having a firearms safety certificate . Gun 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 the DNR over the next two years for a new grant program to local school districts to improve gun safety, hunting, archery and angling as part of physical activities. education courses.