There is a battle raging between the U.S. Congress and environmentalists regarding the use of lead fishing tackle and lead shot for shotguns. All federal lands already have regulations banning these implements but the environmentalists want them banned everywhere. A law passed in 1976 allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the use of certain chemical substances. Lead shot and lead fishing tackle was ruled not to apply to non-federal lands. A coalition of environmental groups is suing the EPA to force a total ban. A group of congressmen called the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) has taken a preemptive strike to prevent the ban from being expanded. .450 bushmaster ammo
The reasoning of the CSC is citing tax revenue as a justification to maintain the status-quo. Their claim is that the higher cost of alternative metals would force a lot of fishermen and hunters to discontinue the sport and impact tax revenue. Alternative ammunition only has 1 percent of the market. They also stated; “There are 60 million recreational anglers in America that contribute $125 billion to our economy annually, and penalizing these men, women and children that are the best stewards of our environment, as well as the financial backbone to fish and wildlife conservation in our country, would be a terrible and unnecessary in justice.”
Other organizations that urged the EPA to dismiss the petition were the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) representing the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies, the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) and the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC).
The EPA dismissed the petition by conservationists stating that the EPA lacked the authority to regulate lead in ammunition and added that shells and cartridges are excluded from the definition of “chemical substances”.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation says a ban on traditional ammunition would impact the financial health of wildlife conservation, since the 11 percent federal excise tax that 450 bushmaster ammo manufacturers pay on the sale of ammunition is a primary source of conservation funding. They also stated that the economic growth of America’s firearms and ammunition industry continues to be a bright spot in our country’s still-ailing economy. Expanding the regulations would hinder the industry, which is responsible for more than 183,000 well-paying jobs and has an economic impact of more than $27.8 billion annually.
So far the ban on lead shot has been limited to waterfowl hunting but some states are considering the ban for other bird species. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has proposed banning lead shot for all migratory bird and upland game hunting at their state owned wildlife management areas. The state of Texas has initiated an investigation into the effects of lead shot on doves, a popular game species there where an estimated 40-50 million doves live.
Both sides of the issue have valid arguments but the jury is still out on the long term effect of lead shot and fishing tackle. There have been a few waterfowl that have digested lead shot and died but the number is far from being catastrophic. Within time, hopefully, there will be some definitive studies that will settle the issue.