Feds Discuss Public-Land Lead Ban

The Sportsmen’s Alliance sounded the alarm concerning the Biden Administration’s settlement talks with radical environmentalists over hunting and fishing on National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs), and it now appears those concerns were indeed warranted as government officials recently revealed that settlement talks have included the banning of lead ammunition and fishing tackle throughout the system.

On Wednesday, March 9, during a virtual Legal Committee meeting for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, a Senior Attorney with the U.S. Department of the Interior, stated that the Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have discussed phasing out the use of lead on refuges – a decision that would impact millions of sportsmen nationwide.

“The administration is needlessly negotiating away millions of acres of land and opportunities for hunters and anglers to participate in the activities that finance a great majority of the already underfunded refuge system,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “America’s sportsmen deserve better. They deserve a seat at the table and a say in how the lands they financially support are used.”

A prohibition on lead could impact millions of sportsmen, both hunters and anglers, in every state in the country. Sinkers, jigs or other lures containing lead could be banned for fishing, while expensive alternative ammunition would be the only resort for hunters.

“We’re still in one of the worst ammunition shortages this nation has ever experienced, and now they’re considering making it even more expensive to hunt, if people can even find acceptable alternative ammunition and afford the gas to visit a refuge,” said Heusinkveld. “And all of this is taking place without any consultation with the hunters and recreational shooters who pay for conservation.”

In November 2021, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suit over the 2020 expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities on 2.2 million acres within the refuge system. The litigious group alleges that hunting on refuges threatens endangered species due to hunters trampling critical habitat, through lead poisoning as a result of spent ammunition and because grizzly bears are mistakenly shot by hunters believing them to be black bears or in self-defense.

The lawsuit seemed a long shot given the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act, landmark legislation drafted and pushed through Congress by the Sportsmen’s Alliance and its partners, which ensured that hunting, fishing and trapping would occur on any refuge where it is compatible. The historic law has opened millions of acres to hunting as every Presidential administration since has touted expansion of opportunities within the system.

It now appears that the Biden Administration, through the Department of Interior and USFWS, is willing to sacrifice opportunities for tens of millions of hunters, anglers and shooters in settlement talks with radical environmentalists.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.