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.