Lead Ban Chronicles – AZ Lead Ban Lawsuit Back On The Table
January 14, 2016
It’s been quite some time since I did one of these. I hope I remember how.
Actually, the lead ammo issue has been simmering quietly along for a while now. It’s boiled up occasionally in Minnesota, where the discussion has ebbed and flowed (I love mixing metaphors), but the state is apparently moving steadily toward a ban on lead ammo for all hunting on state wildlife areas.
Interestingly, the topic has also been pretty heated in the U.K., as “environmental” groups have been pushing a strong line of rhetoric targeted at confusing/convincing non-hunters/shooters. It’s largely based on the same unfounded or over-hyped arguments that we heard here in the U.S., pointing at the “risk” of lead shot poisoning humans and even the groundwater. Likewise, the counter-arguments focus on the centuries of lead ammo use vs. the absence of related cases of lead poisoning in game consumers. As they have pointed out, there’s more lead in the typical bottle of beer than there is in a pheasant or grouse killed by lead shot.
Of a little more interest here in the U.S., it looks like an appeals court is going to allow the Center for Biological Diversity (and crony organizations) to go forward with a lawsuit against the US Forest Service in Arizona. The suit charges that the Forest Service is failing to protect the endangered California Condor by refusing to ban the use of lead ammo on Forest Service lands. The suit was denied earlier, because the plaintiffs were unable to show that the use of lead ammo harmed them personally, but the appeals court sees it differently.
This is sort of a big deal because of the amount of hunting land managed by the US Forest Service in Arizona. Probably most notable is the Kaibab National Forest, which is one of the premier, big game hunting destinations in the U.S. It may be extraneous to note that the widespread, voluntary use of non-lead ammo in this area by hunters has already resulted in an apparent reduction in lead-poisoning cases for scavengers like the condor and eagles.
It’s also important because if this suit is successful, it opens the doors for similar suits across the condor habitat, including Oregon and Utah. It may also provide ammunition for lawsuits in other states, although without the banner of an endangered species for leverage, I can’t say how it will play out.
In much older news, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) back in October. Does this sound like a win for sportsmen? On some levels, I think so. Secreted away in the language of this Act is a provision that clarifies, once and for all, that the EPA does not have authority to restrict or control ammunition components (e.g. lead). That should close the book on the CBD’s efforts to sue the EPA to ban lead bullets. Of course, this act has nothing in it that limits the powers of other state or federal agencies to regulate ammunition.
Stay tuned. After the SHOT Show (next week!), I should have a little more news on the lead front…