Living Green 365: Lead-free hunting

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Header LG 365 October 14

Lead-Free Hunting

Deer hunting season (firearms) launches the second weekend of November in Minnesota —practically a holiday for many residents! Hunting is a physical and social activity for a lot of Minnesotans, and an affordable way to provide food for one’s table. Hunting also provides economic benefits for communities and businesses in the state.

Unfortunately, the lead ammunition that is commonly used in deer hunting can be toxic to bald eagles and other wildlife scavengers as well as to humans. Lead is a neurotoxin that has been banned in the U.S. from gasoline, household paint, and other products. It is particularly hazardous to raptors like bald eagles, which are known to eat the lead-containing animal remains that hunters leave behind.

Copper: A Non-toxic Alternative

Jeff Ledermann and his family have been deer hunting on family property near Alexandria for decades. “As I became more aware of the research about lead in venison and that my daughters were possibly being exposed to lead in our venison sausage, my family and I made the switch to copper slugs and bullets," he noted. "Copper is slightly more expensive, but it is well worth the investment knowing that my family won’t have to worry about lead exposure.”

Lead ammunition can fragment and spread widely in its target. As a result, deer meat can contain lead particles and dust that are not easily detectable or removable. These fragments can pose a health risk to people (pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable) and wildlife.

Jeff Ledermann and his daughter

Good Things to Know about Copper Ammunition

  • Copper ammo is considered to be a nontoxic, practical alternative to lead ammunition.
  • Unlike lead, copper bullets stay in one piece and don’t fragment or shatter upon impact.
  • Copper ammunition is very accurate and effective at achieving results.
  • Though not all retailers currently sell copper ammo, its availability is growing. Ask your local stores to stock copper ammunition if they don’t sell it currently.

If you’re a hunter, make the switch this year. If you don’t hunt but have friends or family who do, encourage them to give copper a “shot”. You’ll be doing yourself, your family, and Minnesota wildlife a huge service!

copper ammo

Additional Information & Resources

  • For a 2012 article on copper ammunition in Minnesota Whitetales, a publication of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA), DNR’s Carrol Henderson and then-MDHA Executive Director, Mark Johnson, interviewed eight hunters—all of whom had switched from using lead to copper ammo. The hunters were asked for their feedback on copper ammunition performance, their reasons for switching from lead to copper, and their recommendations for other hunters.

Community events and resources

Come explore the complex relationship between pollinators and plants that ultimately affects people at Pollinators3: What You Need to Know and How to Make a Difference, a three-part series at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The first in the series, Plants & People, takes place on November 6th, 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

Do it Green! Minnesota invites you to kick off the holiday season with its 9th Annal Green Gifts Fair on Saturday, November 22, 10AM - 5PM at Global Market, located at Lake Street and 10th Avenue in Minneapoils.

Over 80 local, eco-friendly artists and businesses will exhibit at the event, which will also include an eco-fashion show, holiday food samples, kids' activities, and demos. Attendees can also pick up a FREE copy of the 2015 Do it Green! Directory--an all-in-one resource for local, sustainable, and green merchants, grocers, retailers, contractors, designers, consultants, and many more!

The Green Gifts Fair is a fun family event with an estimated attendance of over 6,000. Come car-less (and receive a free gift!) by downloading a Go Green Pass from Metro Transit at

2014 Do it Green! MN Green Gifts Fair

Thank you for reading Living Green 365. This newsletter is a publication of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Please send questions or comments about living green to the address below.


 Erin Barnes-Driscoll and the Living Green Team