Monday, August 30, 2010

Gun-rights advocates resist EPA proposal to ban lead from hunting bullets

Gun-rights advocates are mobilizing against a proposal from environmental groups for the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead in hunting bullets and fishing tackle. "The groups behind the push for new lead limits dismiss its portrayal as 'anti-hunting' by the National Rifle Association and the hunting-industry representatives at the National Shooting Sports Foundation," Elana Schor of Environment & Energy Daily reports. "Where gun-rights advocates see a back-door attempt to rein in hunting, the environmentalists petitioning EPA see an effort to protect species vulnerable to lead poisoning from the ingestion of spent ammunition."

"This is not about curtailing hunting," Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy at the American Bird Conservancy, told Schor. "It's simply about having bullets and shotgun pellets that get into the environment be nontoxic." A petition filed earlier this month by the ABC and four other groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, "cites the availability of less toxic alternatives to lead in asking EPA to weigh in," Schor writes. The agency opened the groups request for public comment until Oct. 31.

In alerting its members to contact their Congressional representatives about the petition, NSSF maintained prohibiting lead hunting equipment would actually hurt wildlife conservation. The federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent) is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding, NSSF Senior Vice President Larry Keane wrote. "The bald eagle's recovery, considered to be a great conservation success story, was made possible and funded by hunters using traditional ammunition -- the very ammunition organizations like the CBD are now demonizing." The petition argues lead could be replaced by other materials without affecting availability of the products. (Read more, subscription required)

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