Environmentalists take aim at toxic lead in ammunition

In a move opposed by many hunters, Jordan, along with 100 organizations in 35 states, wants the Environmental Protection Agency to ban or severely limit the use of toxic lead in hunting ammunition.

In a petition filed with the agency last week, the groups said that up to 20 million birds in the United States die each year after nibbling on bullet fragments, including swans, golden and bald eagles, mourning doves, California condors and more than 70 other species.

For Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, it’s a “national tragedy” and one that easily could be prevented. The nonprofit group, headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., is leading the effort for a federal clampdown, saying it’s a logical progression after the EPA moved to reduce lead exposure in drinking water, paint, gasoline, toys and batteries.

While acknowledging that it would be more costly, they want hunters to use non-toxic ammunition. Miller said that non-lead bullets are now available in all 50 states, with more than a dozen manufacturers marketing hundreds of varieties and calibers made from copper, steel and other metals. The proposed ban would not apply to ammunition used by law enforcement or the military.

Republican Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington state, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and an opponent of the proposed ban, called it a “job-destroying effort” and said proponents of the ban have turned to the EPA “because they know that Congress will protect the Second Amendment and sportsmen’s interests” in defending the use of traditional ammunition.

“The ban on lead bullets would not only increase costs for hunters, sport shooters and fishermen, but would devastate the outdoor sportsmen and recreation industries that thrive in rural America,” Hastings said, responding in a statement to questions about the issue.

McClatchy Newspapers

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7 responses to “Environmentalists take aim at toxic lead in ammunition

  1. Sigh. Unless swans have become meat scavengers they aren’t going to be ingesting lead. Lead shot for waterfowl hunting has been banned for 20 years. It may have been used in the lake for decades before that and is still available to the swans. There is no legal way at present for lead shot to be used on the lake where the swans have died. Alternative ammunition is at least twice the cost of lead. For hunting the annual cost then doubles in regards to ammunition. This is yet another cost which helps some decide to quit hunting. That this anti-lead ammo movement originated from a anti-hunting element is not surprise.

  2. You Yankees and liberals in the Far West have no idea about the carnage that took place in the South from 1861-1865. Our land is full of lead from bullets of the Yankees who came down here and those who defended what the perceived as an attack on their land. Any additional lead in our lands from firing guns is insignificant compared to what is already present.

    The same situation exists for mercury from coal-and oil-fired power plants. Any additional mercury from emmissions from these plants is insignificant to the mercury that is already present in our invironment.

  3. “they want hunters to use non-toxic ammunition” Would that be a bullet that veers away at the last minute?

  4. Habeas corpus.

    Decades ago, when they banned lead shot for
    waterfowl hunting, there were claims of 5,000,000
    birds a year dying from ingesting spent shot.

    Cries of “show us the bodies” got us nowhere.

    If these yahoos want to save birds, ban wind
    turbines.

    There “ban lead ammo” suits are on loop. We
    get them every year.

  5. The sensitivity of instruments that deter lead is mind blowing. The detection of lead in a bird as a datum is meaningless. To then jump to a conclusion that the detected lead was fatal is childish. lead nuts want to ban bicycles for children because of brass in bicycle air valves.

  6. Eric Baumholer

    First off, claims regarding ‘bullet fragments’ is bogus. The most ‘aggressive’ rounds might be deformed on impact, but that’s it. You could get fragments from shooting large rocks, but who hunts rocks? So birds won’t be ‘nibbling on’ lead bullet fragments in any measurable amount. So they’re ignorant.

    They might be thinking about shotgun rounds, but as gamecock points out, using lead shot for waterfowl has been illegal for ages. If there’s concern about lead bullets or lead shotgun pellets contaminating ground water, that’s easy to test. Put a bullet on top of a pile of dirt in a good-sized glass beaker in a lab, and measure the bottom of the pile a year later. Same with pellets (let’s be generous and estimate approximately 10 pellets per square yard, i.e., perhaps 1/4 pellet per beaker). Then again three years later. Measure the result and get back to us. Another problem will be that rifle rounds used for hunting have full or partial copper jackets, and are found in concentrations immeasurably small per square yard.

    Antimony is the most popular suggestion as an alternative to lead. If you run a company that mines antimony, to which ‘charity’ would you want to ‘donate’ tax-deductible funds?

  7. This is part of a long-standing anti-hunting, anti-gun meme. The claim that lead ammunition is “bad for the environment” and “bad for birds of prey” who might eat prey or carrion that has a lead bullet inside is a bogus argument. The green opponents of lead ammunition have not provided any credible evidence of any truth to their assertions. Lead ammunition was banned in areas where California Condors are known to live — but there is no change in the death rate of these birds. (Non-natural deaths most often involving their crashing into power lines (lead free!!) and other such situations.)

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