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Lead Ban Chronicles – Groups Petition EPA To Ban Lead Ammo

March 13, 2012

Haven’t seen one of these in a while, huh?  I sort of hope we don’t see too many, but it does seem like they come in a run.

So anyway, in my email alerts this morning, I got the following “letter” from the Center for Biological Diversity.  There’s nothing really new in anything they’ve written, and nothing in the letter actually challenges the EPA argument that they don’t have authority to regulate ammunition… nor does it challenge the EPA’s response that there’s no compelling evidence to justify the ban of lead fishing tackle.

In fact, after reading the press release and the associated links, I couldn’t find where they were saying anything that they didn’t say the last time this group approached the EPA (and were roundly rejected).  Is this just some sort of persistence game, hoping to wear down the resistance of the Agency?  I don’t know, but honestly, if the CBD can’t find more compelling evidence to support their drive to ban lead, maybe they should take the hint that reality is trying to give them… there’s simply no call for an outright ban on lead ammunition.

Anyway, I’ll attach the body of the thing here for your amusement.  Or maybe it’ll sway you to stop using lead ammunition and join their fight.  But if you start to lean that way, I encourage you to read very closely.  You’ll see how the information is slanted, even in the “data” presented as scientific evidence.  For example, despite the fact that the linked papers decry a connection between human health and the use of lead ammunition, there’s simply nothing there… a minor, and temporary uptick in blood-lead levels at most… and nothing that can’t be managed through careful processing and thoughtful choices (you may not want to feed lead-infused venison burger to a pregnant or nursing mother).

 

100 Groups Ask EPA to End Wildlife Poisoning From Lead Hunting Ammunition

Lead Kills Millions of Birds, Including Eagles, Condors, and Hurts Human Health

WASHINGTON— One hundred organizations in 35 states today formally petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic lead in hunting ammunition to protect public health and prevent the widespread poisoning of eagles, California condors and other wildlife. Up to 20 million birds die each year from lead poisoning after consuming spent lead shot and bullet fragments left in the wild from hunting.

“The unnecessary poisoning of eagles, condors and other wildlife is a national tragedy that the EPA can easily put an end to,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are safe, available alternatives to lead ammo for all hunting and shooting sports, so there’s no reason for this poisoning to go on. Getting the lead out for wildlife is in line with traditional American conservation, hunting and fishing values.”

Today’s petition follows the EPA’s refusal in 2010 to review a petition asking for a ban on lead bullets, shotgun pellets and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and seeks federal rules requiring use of nontoxic bullets and shot for hunting and shooting sports. It was filed by groups representing conservationists, birders, hunters, zoologists, scientists, American Indians, wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians.

In the United States, 3,000 tons of lead are shot into the environment by hunters every year, while another 80,000 tons are released at shooting ranges. Birds and animals are poisoned when they scavenge on carcasses containing lead-bullet fragments or ingest spent lead-shot pellets, which can cover popular hunting grounds at high densities.

Spent lead from hunting is a widespread killer of bald and golden eagles, trumpeter swans, endangered California condors and more than 75 other species. Nearly 500 scientific papers have documented the dangers to wildlife from lead exposure.

“It’s encouraging to see so many groups unite to end lead poisoning of wildlife,” said Miller. “This isn’t about hunting — it’s about switching to nontoxic materials to stop preventable lead poisoning. Getting the lead out of hunting ammunition will reduce hunters’ lead exposure too, as well as the health risks to anyone eating shot game.”

There are many commercially available alternatives to lead rifle bullets, shotgun pellets, fishing weights and lures. More than a dozen manufacturers market hundreds of varieties and calibers of nonlead bullets and shot made of steel, copper and alloys of other metals, with satisfactory to superior ballistics. Nonlead bullets and fishing tackle are readily available in all 50 states. Hunters and anglers in states and areas that have lead restrictions or have already banned lead have made successful transitions to hunting with nontoxic bullets and fishing with nontoxic tackle.

“We wisely removed lead from gasoline and paint because of the dangers of lead poisoning, and now it’s time to do the same for hunting ammunition. Future generations will thank us,” Miller said.

For more information, read about the Center’s Get the Lead Out campaign. Media-ready photos and videos are also available here.

Background

Lead has been known to be highly toxic for more than 2,000 years. Its use in water pipes, cosmetics, pottery and food is suspected to have been a contributing factor in the collapse of the Roman Empire. It is dangerous even at low levels; exposure can cause death or severe health effects, from acute, paralytic poisoning and seizures to subtle, long-term mental impairment, miscarriage, neurological damage, impotence or impaired reproduction, and growth inhibition. There may be no safe level of lead for fetuses and the young. In recent decades the federal government has implemented regulations to reduce human lead exposure in drinking water, batteries, paint, gasoline, toys, toxic dumps, wheel balancing weights and shooting ranges.

At least 75 wild bird species are poisoned by spent lead ammunition, including bald eagles, golden eagles, ravens and California condors. Despite being banned in 1992 for hunting waterfowl, spent lead shotgun pellets continue to be frequently ingested by swans, cranes, ducks, geese, loons and other waterfowl. Many birds also consume lead-based fishing tackle lost in lakes and rivers, often with deadly consequences.

Lead ammunition also poses health risks to people when bullets fragment in shot game and spread throughout the meat that humans eat. Studies using radiographs show that numerous imperceptible, dust-sized particles of lead can infect meat up to a foot and a half away from the bullet wound, causing a greater health risk to humans who consume lead-shot game than previously thought. State health agencies have had to recall venison donated to feed the hungry because of lead contamination. Nearly 10 million hunters, their families and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations may be at risk.

In denying the 2010 lead ban petition, the EPA claimed it lacks authority to regulate toxic lead bullets and shot under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which controls manufacture, processing and distribution of dangerous chemicals in the United States, including lead. Yet congressional documents and the language of the Act explicitly contradict the agency’s claim. The House report on the history and intent of the Act states it “does not exclude from regulation under the bill chemical components of ammunition which could be hazardous because of their chemical properties.” Petitioning organizations sued the EPA over the improper petition denial, but hit a procedural snag and the lawsuit was dismissed in September 2011. The EPA never evaluated lead ammunition risks to wildlife and human health, and the court never ruled on the merits of the petition or lawsuit.

 

Back In Texas – Catching Up On The Game Cams

March 12, 2012

Well, it’s been two weeks since I last checked out the Moultries here on the Hillside Manor.  But I’m back now, and first thing this morning Iggy and I were out to pull the cards and see what came to visit while we were gone.  This time should have been a little different, since I didn’t really have any corn or anything to put out when we left in February.  I wondered if I’d still get visitors… and boy, did I!

The whitetail are still thick.  With the yard fenced now, keeping the goats at bay, the deer are having a field day on the greenery.  There must have been a half-dozen standing there when I rolled in Sunday night.  They’re all over the game cams too.  Nothing particularly outstanding, except a return visit from “Funkhorn”.

I keep waiting to see a bunch of hogs nosing around under the trees, but so far there’s been no sign.  Also continuously absent are the axis deer.  I saw a few down the road about a half-mile from the house, but still nothing here on the place.  I’m holding out hope, though, with the rain bringing up the greenery, my pasture is starting to green up real nice.  I’ve also knocked down a bunch of juniper (cedar), so there’s good open pasture with dense edges.

The surprise I did get was a nice one, though.  On my morning walk, I noticed several patches of scratching on the dirt.  A little further along the trail, I spotted the tell-tale, J-shaped scat of a tom turkey.  I hurried my walk to check the camera and, sure enough, it looks like right there at the end of February, I had a couple of visitors.

Turkey season opens in this part of Texas on March 17.  I can take up to four toms during the season, but I’m not wanting to be greedy… I just want one for now.  I just hope the guys working on my back fenceline haven’t scared them off.

Finally, though, the majority of the most expensive work is pretty much done.  The stone masons put the final touches on the rock wall under the porch this morning, and the carpenters have pretty much wrapped up.  The only things left are to install the ceiling fan and connect the wiring  for my lights and fixtures to the box.

I think the place is looking pretty danged good!

 

Heading Back Down To The Promised Land

March 9, 2012

Hitting the road tonight for the rest of the month.  Got some more work to do down there, and also hoping to get out to spend a day or so at the Sabinal Wild Hog Festival!

Probably posted this before, but so what?  No, sir, I’m not from Texas.  But I’m getting there as fast as I can go!

North Carolina Hunting, Horse, and Relaxation Property For Sale

March 8, 2012

So my little brother and his wife finally listed their North Carolina property for sale.  It’s just outside of the city of Wilmington, and consists of a sweet little, 17.66 acre parcel, complete with fenced pastures, a woodlot managed for game (food plots, trails, stand locations, etc.), and a real nice barn.  This is the spot where I go to hunt with my brother every year.  If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll remember some of the bucks from his game cams.

If you’re interested in a really pretty spot in southeastern NC, with tons of whitetail, good turkeys, and set up perfectly for horses, this is a great opportunity.  I think it would be an awesome place to build a home as well… just far enough out of town to be comfortable, but close enough to be convenient.  The Wilmington International Airport is only about 15 minutes away, and you can hop onto I-40 in five minutes.

Oh, and the sooner it sells, the sooner they can join me in the Texas Hill Country!

Check it out online.

Spring Fever… Turkey Time, Etc.

March 6, 2012

It’s that time of year.

The weather is fighting its annual battle, with cold-and-wet doing its best to hold its ground while warm-and-dry is pushing hard to take over.  It’s an epic conflict, resulting in wild winds and raging climatic fluctuations.  Across the midwest and south, it’s the beginning of tornado season as the warring frontal systems stir eddies and rip currents in the ocean of air in which we all swim.  Out here in the west, it’s a mix of sunshine and drizzling fog… frigid mornings and balmy afternoons.

Of course the weather isn’t the only thing in tumult right now.  For many creatures, spring fever is a very real phenomenon.  And amongst the critters feeling the pull are the wild turkeys!

That’s right, it’s turkey time!  Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the birds are still in big, mixed groups.  But I’m already seeing the beginnings of strut behavior and competition.  The jakes are sparring, and the bigger toms are starting to puff up and demonstrate their dominance.  It won’t be long around here before the breeding season is going full bore, and the canyons will echo with gobbles, purrs, putts, and cackles.

Are you ready?

I know I am, although I’m probably going to open my turkey season down in the Texas Hill Country this year (if I can get access to some of the properties where the birds are holding).  It’s time to dust off the decoys, clean up the camo, and pattern the scatterguns (or sight in the bows).  It’s time to drive the dog (and the rest of the household) crazy, practicing my turkey calls.  I’ve been a little slack this year, so I really need to get at it.

I’ve got some new toys to try out this year, and I’ve been eager all year for turkey season to finally arrive so I can get them into action.

For decoys, I received a couple of the Montana Decoys for review.  I’ve never used the silhouette-type decoys, but the folks at Montana assure me that they work like a charm.  I guess I’ll know soon, when I put out the “Teaser” hen and “Mr. T” tom.

I’ve also been dying to use this Benjamin Marauder for turkeys.  I had a great plan this fall, but coyotes showed up and crashed that party.  Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of shooting with this thing, but haven’t really been able to use it for anything other than paper.   Between Texas and California, I’m hoping to to finally shed some feathers!  Of course, I’ll keep the Mathews and the shotgun handy as well… just in case!

Got big plans for turkey season this year?

 

 

It Just Gets Weirder… or… Sometimes It May Be Best To Keep Your Mouth Shut

March 2, 2012

It’s no secret that I totally support Dan Richards in the hullaballoo over his mountain lion hunt.  The stupidity and irrelevance of the “charges” against him leave me, in a word, flabbergasted.  This is what our state legislators have to bicker about?

Anyway, earlier this week, Dan Richards fired off an angry and defensive letter to the General Assembly (specifically assemblyman Ben Hueso).  It made his case, more or less, but it also didn’t come off as a very mature response.  He obviously allowed his emotions to overrule his logic there, and you can bet some folks are going to use this against him.

Personally, I think it would be a great time for Richards to hush for a second, and maybe work with the hunting and fishing community to campaign in his behalf.  But he isn’t.  Instead he went on radio, making some strong accusations (which may be accurate), and came across sounding bitter and a little juvenile.  Again, at this point it probably doesn’t matter so much whether he’s right (for the most part, he is).  It’s more about winning over the undecided, and he may not be helping his case much at all.

He did raise a couple of salient points… namely that the Humane Society of the US is at the root of this donnybrook, and that Gavin Newsom’s motivation for being involved may have more to do with placing his father (William Newsom, former President of the Mountain Lion Foundation) on the Fish and Game Commission.  He also verified the important fact, that even though he refuses to resign his position voluntarily, the General Assembly can remove him by a simple majority vote… an action that is very likely at this point.

If you’ve got a couple of minutes, listen to the radio interview (embedded at the bottom of this linked article), and see what you think.

Regardless, I strongly urge all CA hunters and fishermen to get involved in this discussion, and to contact Governor Brown and your state representatives to show support for Richards and oppose his removal from the Commission.  His loss would be a serious blow to hunting and fishing in this state.

Hat tip to Jesse at Jesse’s Hunting and Outdoors for bringing this radio interview to my attention.

Richards Rejects Resignation Requests Resulting From Mountain Lion Hunt

March 1, 2012

Because I took up this banner, I feel like I ought to follow it through.  The furor over Fish and Game Commissioner, Dan Richards, hunting and killing an Idaho mountain lion seems to be settling a little bit.  Folks are moving on to other things, although I can assure you that the forces aligned against Mr. Richards (and against hunting) are not dropping the issue just yet.  I’ll ask any concerned California sportsmen to keep an eye on this, and keep voicing your support for Richards in this issue. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Richards has issued his official response to the critics.  In a letter penned on Tuesday, Richards addressed the CA General Assembly… specifically Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D – San Diego) who has taken the lead in the calls for his resignation.  Along with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome, 40 of the 80 members of the assembly called for Richards to resign, under the really whacked-out argument that his legal hunt in Idaho showed a lack of respect for California law.  Huh?  Is it any wonder that California has such a screwed up public image with folks from other states? 

In short, Richards tells the Assembly and his other critics to go pound sand.   Here’s the last part of his letter. 

I would suggest the Legislature stop cutting the Fish and Game Departments budget every year while increasing the demands upon it.  This lack of concern for the resources we manage, the Wardens who are put in harm’s way daily, and Department and Commission employees who are over-burdened and under-funded is shameful.

In the meantime, I will continue to hunt and fish wherever I please, as I have always done, ethically, licensed and proudly associating with the true conservationists who daily fund, protect, enjoy and enhance our bountiful resources while not trying to limit others enjoyment of same.

There is ZERO chance I would consider resigning my position as President of the California Fish and Game Commission and it is my sincere hope that you and your colleagues reassess your request and instead work positively with our Commission and Department for the betterment of the resources we’re entrusted to manage.

I’ll lift a glass to that! 

Here’s a link to the entirety of Mr. Richards’s letter.  It’s worth a read:  Richards-Letter

 

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