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Attention Rail, Snipe and Moorhen Hunters - New Nontoxic Shotgun Shell Regulations for 2005

August 31, 2005

Beginning on September 1, hunters will be required to use shotgun shells loaded with nontoxic shot at all times while hunting rails, snipe, and moorhens in New Jersey. Nontoxic shotshell types legal for waterfowl will also be legal for rails, snipe, and moorhens.

Legal shells are those containing nontoxic shot of steel, bismuth, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-nickel-iron (HEVI-SHOT), tungsten-iron-nickel-tin (TINT), tungsten-bronze, and tungsten-tin-bismuth. Hunters are not permitted to use or have in possession, shotgun shells loaded with lead shot while pursuing rails, snipe, or moorhens.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife initiated these new regulations after numerous studies indicated that spent lead shot deposited in marshes was being ingested by waterfowl and other wildlife causing death and debilitation. Additionally, secondary lead poisoning is a threat to predatory and scavenging wildlife, most notably raptors, which consume weakened animals that have ingested lead shot.

"The proposed changes will essentially halt lead shot deposition and subsequent wildlife poisoning in New Jersey wetlands," said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Martin J. McHugh. "Rail hunting, particularly for soras, occurs in some of our most valuable wetlands utilized by a variety of waterfowl and raptors, including bald eagles.” As a result, a common-sense, proactive approach to limit lead in our valuable wetland environments was necessary."

Recently, ammunition manufacturers have developed and marketed nontoxic shotgun shells that have lower velocities and smaller shot sizes suitable for rail and snipe hunting. These lighter load steel shot shells are available in 12 and 20 gauge. Other nontoxic loads, particularly bismuth and HEVI-SHOT, are available in 12 and 20 gauge as well as other less common gauges.

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2005
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: August 31, 2005