March 30, 2017

Illinois: Lead Ammunition Ban Threatens State’s Professional Wildlife Management

Passed by the Illinois Senate Committee on Environment and Conservation on March 16, IL S 1985 would ban the use of lead ammunition to take wildlife in state parks or natural areas.

To date, there is no scientific evidence to indicate that the use of lead to harvest wildlife has had a significant, harmful impact on wildlife populations in Illinois. Proponents of lead ammunition bans often cite isolated incidents of wildlife ingesting harmful amounts of lead in an attempt to infer population level impacts. However, state fish and wildlife agencies successfully manage wildlife at the population level, and not the individual level. Decisions to ban the use of lead ammunition should be left to the expertise of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists, rather than the state legislature.

Through the American System of Conservation Funding, excise taxes generated from the sales of ammunition contribute to the funding needed by the Illinois DNR to support wildlife management efforts in the state. Banning any lead ammunition based on perception, rather than science, opens the door for future lead ammunition restrictions that could have a significant negative economic impact on the state DNR, as well as other state’s fish and wildlife agencies. Bans on lead ammunition force hunters to utilize alternatives to traditional ammunition, many of which do not perform as well as lead, and can be prohibitively expensive.

Illinois has over 1.3 million sportsmen and women who annually spend upwards of $2.3 billion dollars on their outdoor pursuits. The state’s hunters and anglers contributed more than $67 million dollars in 2015 through hunting license sales, fishing license sales, and through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingle-Johnson Acts. More information on lead ammunition and fishing tackle bans can be found here

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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