Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has used his authority to veto a state agency rule so dove hunters will be able to use lead ammunition in September when the dove hunting season opens. The governor’s Natural Resources Commission — after its chairman checked with Branstad — voted last summer to ban lead shot, as critics say the lead that doesn’t reach its target poses environmental harm to both animals and humans. But then Branstad said he learned the Iowa House had voted against the idea of banning lead shot when the bill establishing a dove hunting season was passed in 2011.
A legislative committee that reviews the regulations drafted by state agencies put a hold on the rule banning lead shot, giving the full legislature an opportunity to weigh in on the issue. The Iowa House voted to nullify the rule, but the Senate didn’t take up the issue — which means the ban on lead shot went into effect Thursday. Friday, Branstad used his authority to veto the rule.
Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, is a long-time backer of the move to allow dove hunting in Iowa. Dearden attended the ceremony Branstad held to sign the executive order vetoing the ban on lead shot.
The Iowa House voted this past February to allow lead shot for dove hunting but the Senate never took up the measure. Dearden is unwilling to say whether the senate’s inaction on the issue was intentional or accidental. Dearden intends to hunt doves in Iowa this September, using lead shot.
Earlier this year the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter filed a lawsuit to try to get a court to uphold the Natural Resources Commission’s decision to ban lead shot and require “non-toxic” steel shot for the dove hunting season. Neilla Seaman, a spokeswoman for the group, is obviously displeased with the governor’s action.
Seaman says Branstad’s reasoning doesn’t make sense.
Governor Branstad argues his veto of the Natural Resources Commission rule makes the Sierra Club’s lawsuit “moot.” Seaman says she’s consulting with a lawyer to determine what the Sierra Club’s next step will be.
As a side note, in case you’re wondering, many hunters prefer lead shot due to a number of factors, most of them related to lead’s higher density — including accuracy, pattern, and the fact that it flies farther, so it kills at greater distances. It’s also less expensive.
The jury is still out, so-to-speak on whether it is less environmentally-friendly than other shot, especially over land.
RadioIowa assisted with this story.