A petition to ban lead in fishing tackle and hunters’ ammunition has been rejected by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with officials saying the issue is better left to lawmakers.

The petitioners, lead by the Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas, cited mounting evidence that lead ammunition and tackle is poisoning loons, eagles and other Minnesota wildlife.

Studies have shown that loons swallow dangerous quantities of lead fragments from lake bottoms and that eagles ingest lead shot from “gut piles” left by hunters after they field-dress deer.

But given the broad scope of the proposal, the lack of data on its impacts to wildlife populations, and the state’s history of failed attempts to adopt more modest lead restrictions, “there is an insufficient basis to commence rule making,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen wrote in a decision issued Monday afternoon.