Feds Reject Anti-Hunting Group's Lead Ammo Ban Demands

Feds Reject Anti-Hunting Group's Lead Ammo Ban Demands

An attempt by an anti-hunting organization to persuade the federal government to ban lead ammo and fishing gear on the more than 500 million acres of federal lands by next year has been thwarted.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), an organization that has come out strongly against legal, regulated sport hunting, petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to ban lead ammo and fishing gear on lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System by 2026. Interestingly, it was the Biden administration’s USFWS, which itself has been pushing a widespread ban on lead ammo on federal lands, that ignored the demands of CBD and chose not to undertake a national rulemaking concerning lead ammunition and tackle within the refuge system.

As a major stakeholder that fights for the interest of hunters, the National Rifle Association has been fighting all proposed lead ammunition bans for the past few decades. The recent decision by USFWS Director Martha Williams not to pursue rulemaking on this issue was welcome news for the NRA and hunters nationwide.

“The NRA welcomes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to follow the science and reject the extremist calls to ban the use of traditional ammunition,” said Randy Kozuch, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). “This decision reinforces what we already know: Traditional ammunition provides a safe, effective and affordable option for hunters and recreational shooters without making a significant impact on wildlife. NRA will continue to oppose any arbitrary decisions that attempt to limit sportsmen’s access to America’s vast public lands.”

The proposal to ban lead ammo on federal refuges has been a contentious one and even caught the attention of Congress earlier this spring when U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana introduced U.S. Senate Bill 1185 to protect hunters’ rights. The measure sought to prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) from banning the use of traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle absent approval by the applicable state fish and wildlife agencies and proof that lead ammunition and tackle is primarily causing a decline in wildlife species’ populations. While it is unclear whether the legislation played a part in USFWS’ decision, the measure did have 24 Senate co-sponsors.

Following suit in the House, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia introduced companion bill H.R. 615, the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act of 2023.

The proposed lead ammunition ban also was opposed by groups including the Association of Fish and Wildlife agencies (AFWA), which represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.

As readers of the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum and NRA-ILA websites are aware, NRA-ILA has long fought against sweeping lead ammunition bans and has championed decisions based on actual scientific evidence, which shows that traditional ammunition does not pose a significant wildlife population-level risk. The real goal of such bans—nearly always proposed by those who oppose hunting—is to attack America’s hunting heritage.

In the end, forcing hunters to use non-lead ammunition with no sound scientific basis to back up such a ban represents yet another barrier to hunting, and one that the science does not bear out as even necessary.

About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.