by Mark Chesnut - Tuesday, July 11, 2023
A key U.S. House committee has approved an important measure that would help ensure the future of hunting in the United States by prohibiting the ban of lead ammunition on many federally managed lands. HR 615, called the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, was introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia. The measure bars the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture from prohibiting or regulating the use of lead ammunition or tackle on federal land or water that is under the jurisdiction of such departments and made available for hunting or fishing.
The move comes after repeated efforts by some environmentalists and anti-hunters, including President Joe Biden to ban lead ammunition on federal wildlife refuges and some other lands. Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) opened more National Wildlife Refuges to hunting and fishing, but then outlawed the use of traditional lead ammo and fishing tackle on those refuges.
“Our hunters and anglers help restore wildlife and habitat,” Rep. Wittman said, in the recent committee meeting when the measure was being considered. “These lands belong to the people of this nation and we should never forget that.”
The new House legislation would require the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to provide site-specific scientific data, in cooperation with state agencies, that demonstrates traditional lead ammunition or fishing tackle is causing detrimental wildlife population impacts before prohibiting their use by hunters and anglers.
“Sportsmen are the original conservationists and play an important role in wildlife management. The last thing we should do is limit their access to public lands by implementing a blanket-ban on traditional ammo and tackle, reduce revenue for important state wildlife and conservation programs in the process,” Daines said upon introduction of the measure. “Outdoor recreation is part of our Montana way of life. I’ll keep fighting to protect our hunting and fishing legacy and ensuring these decisions are guided by science, not politics.”
The push to ban lead ammunition has become more contentious over the past several years. Surprisingly, a few weeks ago, the USFWS rejected pleas by the anti-hunting group Center for Biological Diversity to ban lead ammo and fishing gear on the more than 500 million acres of federal lands by next year.
As we’ve reported in the past, such a ban would make hunting more difficult and more expensive for hunters who want to access these public lands. Non-lead ammunition, often made of copper alloys, is routinely cited as being at least 25 percent more expensive than traditional lead varieties.
Non-lead ammunition also can be very difficult to find at retail operations as there simply is not that much of it made compared to traditional lead ammunition. The non-lead options available for centerfire rifle ammunition, for example, are limited to certain popular calibers.
With its recent passage by the House Natural Resources Committee, HR 615 next moves to the House floor for consideration. We’ll keep you posted as this critical measure advances through the legislative process.
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.
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