Anti-hunting groups cite unfounded allegations that lead is having a detrimental effect on wildlife populations to push for bans on lead ammunition. Of key concern is the potential for these bans to lead to decreased revenue for state fish and wildlife agencies. Specifically, alternative ammunition will lead to higher costs being passed on to the consumer, thus the sales of both firearms and ammunition will be impacted, as will the excise taxes collected through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program – a crucial revenue stream for these agencies. Therefore, these bans should only be considered at such a time when there is irrefutable scientific evidence that lead is having a detrimental population-level impact.
Anti-hunting groups are active in a lobbying campaign to ban lead ammunition, citing allegations that lead is having a detrimental effect on wildlife populations. In California, the condor has been the species utilized to enact a lead ammunition ban. Those who advocated a ban on lead ammunition in California indicated that they believe that the efforts to save the endangered California condor from extinction have been adversely affected by the deaths of condors attributable to lead poisoning. They assert that the source of the lead poisoning condors is from ammunition used by hunters, but this has not been conclusively proven. Anti-hunting groups have also made unfounded assertions that wild game harvested using lead ammunition, and then consumed, may cause health concerns. Those allegations came after an individual in North Dakota claimed to have found lead fragments in venison packages he obtained at a food shelter. The group study conducted in North Dakota mentioned above found that while 98.8% of people consumed venison meat, their lead levels were still below the national average.
Points of Interest
• Legislators and environmentalists did not listen to the scientific research which never resulted in conclusive negative wildlife population effects and instead continued to support the drastic move of banning lead ammunition.
• Any ban on the use of lead ammunition for hunting will have a significant negative economic impact on your state fish and wildlife agency.
• There could be a noticeable loss to the economy of the state and local economies, particularly in rural areas. California is already experiencing this downturn.
• The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study of hunters and others that have consumed game to determine whether they have an elevated level of lead in their blood that can be attributed to the ammunition used to harvest the game. Indications of the CDC study released by the North Dakota Department of Health (DOH), which is participating in the study, show none of those tested had unsafe blood lead levels. The readings were far below the level considered elevated for a child (10 micrograms per deciliter); let alone the level for an adult (25 micrograms per deciliter).
• The CDC study was done in response to reports of lead fragments having been found in a few packages of venison sampled at food pantries in North Dakota and a few other upper Mid-Western states. As a result, some states overreacted to the reports by becoming overly cautious and ordering that all venison at food pantries be destroyed, a clear overreaction not based on sound science.
• Wildlife management focuses on populations, not individuals. Isolated incidents concerning individuals of wildlife populations do not warrant a ban on lead ammunition.
• On August 3, 2010 a petition was submitted to the EPA to ban the production and sale of lead based ammunition and fishing tackle which argued that lead bullets and fishing tackle should be regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The petition was denied. A nearly identical petition was then submitted to the EPA on March 13, 2012. Once again the petition was denied.
• The lead shot and bullet bans that the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups are pursuing these days are for all purposes, not just hunting. Thus, all recreational shooting would be severely affected as well.
Despite there being no scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that lead ammunition is endangering the health of wildlife populations, anti-hunting interest groups are continuing to press state legislatures around the country to support a ban on traditional ammunition. These politically driven groups understand that an outright ban on hunting would be nearly impossible to achieve, dismantling the heritage of hunting one step at a time has become a substitute goal. Banning lead ammunition is a first step – a step that is literally taking the food out of the mouths of the hungry, unnecessarily, to advance a political agenda.
For more information regarding this issue, please contact:
Jennifer Lundy (321) 253-0016; Jennifer@sportsmenslink.org