Iowa lawmakers likely to revisit lead shot / dove hunting issue

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

January 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Legislators are likely to engage in a spirited debate over what kind of bullets may be fired at doves. Last year, in uncharacteristically speedy fashion, lawmakers voted to legalize dove hunting in Iowa. But Senator Dick Dearden of Des Moines and others are upset with the Iowa Natural Resources Commission’s decision to forbid hunters from using lead shot when firing at doves. “People talk about the legislature sneaking this (law) through and the reality is they snuck through that (restriction),” Dearden says. “They came through at the last minute and made the rule.” The rule requires the use of steel shot for dove hunting, but a resolution that would nullify that rule is pending in both the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate. Representative Henry Rayhons, of Garner, stopped by a local gun shop last week and heard lots of complaints about steel shot.

“It’s not as accurate,” Rayhons says. “It’s harder on the guns and it’s darned near twice as expensive.” Critics say animals, like ducks and eagles, die after eating the lead shot lying on the ground that didn’t wind up in a bird. Dearden, a life-long hunter, accuses those opponents of using the lead-shot issue as a smoke-screen to try to derail the entire dove hunting law. “It’s all about doves,” Dearden says. “It has nothing to do with eagles or anything else.” Dearden says he got plenty of hate mail after spearheading passage of the dove hunting law last year.

“My favorite was a woman who said: ‘You’re a sick old man. I hope you die while hunting mourning doves,’” Dearden says. “I emailed her back and said: ‘So do I.’” Critics of lead shot say it’s a danger to humans, too, who eat bird meat that’s riddled with lead fragments. One study suggested lead particles have been found up to a foot and a half away, causing a greater risk of lead poisoning to humans than previously thought.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)