Why It Matters: The use of lead ammunition and lead tackle in hunting and angling is a contentious issue, with the primary concern being the potential effects on wildlife. However, to this date, there has been limited documented evidence that sportsmen’s use of lead has had deleterious impacts on wildlife at the population level in the United States. These efforts are generally based on the emotional assumption that isolated incidents of animals ingesting harmful levels of lead translates to impacts on entire population, but that has rarely been shown to be the case.
- Recently, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Steve Daines (MT) introduced the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act (S. 1185). This legislation mirrors the House version of the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, which is led by CSC Member Rep. Rob Wittman.
- This legislation will protect and help maintain the ability of sportsmen and women to use traditional ammunition and fishing tackle on certain federally managed lands unless a substantiated scientific and state-supported process has taken place that determines a restriction is necessary.
- Unwarranted prohibitions on the use of traditional ammo and tackle serve as de-facto hunting and fishing access restrictions when non-traditional ammo and tackle are unavailable in the marketplace or cost prohibitive.
- Efforts to restrict or prohibit the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle must follow a process that is rooted in science and is consistent with the respective state fish and wildlife agency.
Last week, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Sen. Steve Daines reintroduced the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, a bill to support the use of traditional ammo and tackle by sportsmen and women. This legislation is strongly supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
Specifically, the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act prohibits federal land management agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service from instituting any restrictions on lead ammunition and tackle unless three triggers are met. First, any claims indicating a decline in wildlife populations at a specific unit of land where lead ammo and tackle is being restricted must be substantiated through field data from that unit. Additionally, the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act requires that any restrictions on lead ammo and tackle be consistent with the regulations of the impacted state fish and wildlife agency. Finally, the respective state fish and wildlife agency must concur with the need for regulation.
CSF maintains that any decision that seeks to limit the use of traditional ammo and tackle must be rooted in a scientific process, rather than emotional perception. The use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle should not be restricted by any arbitrary decisions that lack scientific justification. Additionally, non-lead ammunition and tackle options are often cost-prohibitive and not widely available, and as the markets have shown (primarily for ammunition), supply is still struggling to meet demand. Lastly, the inability to locate non-lead options, especially those that are reasonably affordable, has the potential to stave off participation, which in-turn may result in a loss of revenue for state fish and wildlife agencies through the American System of Conservation Funding.
CSF will continue to work to protect the use of traditional ammo and tackle for sportsmen and women. CSF will ensure that any efforts to restrict the use of lead ammo and tackle follow a science-driven process and have the support of the impacted state fish and wildlife agency, the entity best positioned to manage fish and wildlife.