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USFWS TO REQUIRE NON-TOXIC SHOT ON ALL WATERFOWL PRODUCTION AREAS



NEWS RELEASE
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region

Contact:
Dan Sobieck, External Affairs 612/713-5403
Dan_Sobieck@mail.fws.gov

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TO REQUIRE
NON-TOXIC SHOT USE ON ALL WATERFOWL
PRODUCTION AREAS

Upland game hunters hunting on federal Waterfowl
Production Areas (WPAs) will be required to use non-
toxic shot if a rule proposed today by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service is made final.

The rule, published in the July 27, 1998, Federal Register,
would require those hunting on WPAs to possess only
non-toxic shot such as steel, bismuth, or tungsten-iron.
While the use of non-toxic shot has been a requirement
for waterfowl hunting on WPAs since 1992, this
restriction would now apply to all hunters on WPAs
except those hunting turkey and deer.  By federal law, all
WPAs are open to public hunting, fishing and trapping.

+We know when birds ingest lead shot it's deadly to them,'
said Regional Service Director Bill Hartwig. +Lead can
also be deadly to other animals like eagles and hawks if
they feed on birds or bird carcasses which contain lead
shot.  This proposed rule would help reduce the lead
poisoning hazard for all animals on these important
Waterfowl Production Areas.'

Upland areas associated with wetlands provide important
nesting cover for both waterfowl and upland birds like
ring-necked pheasants, marsh hawks (Northern Harrier)
and meadowlarks.  Traditionally, these upland areas have
also been favored by small game hunters-- especially
pheasant hunters--because of their ability to hold game.
Because many of these areas are subject to seasonal
flooding, shot pellets deposited during fall hunting
seasons can later be ingested by waterfowl feeding in
these areas during high water periods in the spring.  The
non-toxic shot  rule would end the accumulation of lead in
these areas.

Most WPAs are located in the duck-producing prairie
pothole states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota
and Minnesota.  Wisconsin, Iowa,  Nebraska, and
Michigan also contain these important production areas.
True to their name, WPAs -- which range in size from just
under an acre to several thousand acres -- do produce
waterfowl.  Although WPAs and refuge lands in the
prairie pothole region account for less than two percent of
the habitat, they produce nearly 23 percent of the area's
waterfowl.  Over 650,000 acres are designated as WPAs.

Non-toxic shot currently approved for use by the Service
includes shot made of steel or bismuth.   Tungsten-iron
and tungsten-polymer shot, presently under review, are
likely to be approved for the 1998/1999 hunting season.
If approved, notice of approval would be published in the
Federal Register in September.  Non-toxic shot shells are
available commercially in popular shotgun gauges and
loads.  Non-toxic shot is also available for those hunters
who load their own shells and for those who use primitive
muzzleloading firearms.  Both modern (breechloading)
and muzzleloading firearms used on WPAs are restricted
to non-toxic shot use.

WPAs are part of the nation's National Wildlife Refuge
System,  managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
the primary federal agency responsible for the
conservation and protection of fish, wildlife and their
habitat.  The National Wildlife Refuge System includes
more than 93 million acres of land, including over 3,000
WPAs and 514 National Wildlife Refuges.  Many refuges
also offer fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing
opportunities.

Those interested in commenting on the proposed non-
toxic shot rule are invited to write to:
Assistant Director, Refuges and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, 1849 C Street NW, MS 670 ARLSQ,
Washington, DC 20240.

All comments must be received within a 30-day public
comment period which ends August 26, 1998.  A final
rule will be issued and published in the Federal Register
following the public comment period.  It is anticipated the
final regulations will be in effect during the 1998-1999
hunting seasons.

 -FWS-