Today the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) followed through on its August proposed rule to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle on individual refuge units in the coming years, leaving open the possibility of extending the ban to more refuges in the future. While the Sportsmen’s Alliance applauded the expansion of hunting and fishing on a handful of refuges, serious concerns remain that FWS is moving forward with a lead ban without fully considering the consequences to the hunting and fishing community.
Despite FWS’ claims to the contrary, non-lead alternatives are more expensive, are not widely available and can be less effective than traditional lead ammunition. FWS dismisses such concerns almost out-of-hand, noting in the final rule, “… we have not seen declines in hunting use attributable to non-lead ammunition requirements.” This statement is without citation or attribution to any data source, so cannot be verified.
The final rule also fails to include any alternatives to an outright ban, many of which can mitigate lead exposure to wildlife populations and humans alike. Instead of exploring such alternatives, such as a requirement that hunters bury all gut piles, FWS jumped to the most restrictive and politically expedient option.
“We are very concerned that FWS remains so dismissive of sportsmen’s concerns about the implications this ban might have while refusing to consider alternatives,” said Todd Adkins, vice president of government affairs for the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “They cite past experience as their guide, but none of us know what a broadly implemented lead ban will do to ammunition and fishing tackle supplies long term.”
The final lead-ban rule comes on the heels of ongoing settlement negotiations between FWS and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), a lawsuit that includes a dispute over the use of lead ammunition on refuges. Both FWS and CBD have identified the importance of the new lead-ban rule in their negotiations, but it remains to be seen what that final settlement will include. The Sportsmen’s Alliance was among the first to alert sportsmen that the two parties had announced agreement on “key terms” earlier this summer, but neither party in the lawsuit have divulged those terms.
“We know that CBD wants a lead ammunition ban everywhere as part of their overall strategy to undermine our nation’s sportsmen and women,” added Adkins. “We will continue to fight to ensure the rulemaking process – by FWS or any agency – isn’t corrupted and becomes just another tool for animal extremists to use in their quest to destroy America’s hunters, trappers and anglers.”
About Sportsmen’s Alliance: Working in all 50 state legislatures, the Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public and youth education, legal defense in state and federal court and research to guide the decision-making process of all involved. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance at www.sportsmensalliangce.org, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.