Readers of the July 3 Free Press article, “Lead bullets are harming bald eagles,” should also read the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s April 1 report, “By any metric, Minnesota is at the center of bald eagles' rebound.”
The first line gets to the point: “The bald eagle population in Minnesota is soaring, benefiting from conservation measures.”
I am senior vice president and general counsel for government affairs with the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Forty years ago, Minnesota was home to only 181 nesting pairs of the majestic raptor. In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found there were nearly 10,000 nesting pairs. Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced there are more than 317,000 bald eagles soaring high in America today, quadrupling the bald eagle population since 2009.
Wabasha’s National Eagle Center Marketing Manager Ed Hanh put Minnesota’s eagle recovery efforts in context, saying “Bald eagles are the poster child for success.” Bald eagle recovery is the greatest conservation success story in the country’s history, and Minnesota hunters have played a significant role.
Despite what The Free Press article purports, there isn’t one single instance of lead poisoning harming hunters due to lead in harvested game. In Minnesota’s case, the Department of Natural Resources correctly denied a 2019 petition by activist groups to prohibit the use of traditional lead ammunition.
When hunters purchase firearms, and the ammunition of their choosing, they support conservation and wildlife management. The firearm and ammunition industry has contributed more than $13.8 billion in Pittman-Robertson excise taxes since 1937.
These funds go to states to help with conservation projects and wildlife management, like bringing bald eagle populations back from the brink in Minnesota.
That’s the clear science.
Lawrence G. Keane