Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director
On June 10, the Joint Natural Resources Committee (Committee) voted (15-0) to disapprove of a regulation proposed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) that would have banned the use of lead ammunition for shotguns on Wildlife Management Area (WMAs) shooting ranges.
The proposed rule would have impacted shooting ranges on five WMAs that are equipped for skeet, trap, sporting clays or 5-stand shooting. Specifically, the proposed rule stated, “Shooting ranges: Non-toxic shot required for all shotguns.”
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) worked with conservation partners and the Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to oppose the proposed regulation. National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member Representative Jerome Zeringue testified in opposition to the proposed rule.
CSF also submitted a letter to the Committee opposing the proposed regulation. The letter noted that only one other WMA in the country has a similar prohibition and questioned the scientific basis for the rule change.
The letter stated, “There is no scientific evidence indicating that the use of lead shot for shotguns on WMA shooting ranges has negative population level impacts on wildlife. State fish and wildlife agencies are charged with managing wildlife at the population level, not the individual level, to ensure that management decisions are made in the best interest of conserving wildlife populations in the long run. The LDWF, however, has not provided evidence that wildlife populations have been negatively impacted, and we therefore submit that the rule proposal is not a science-based decision.”
The letter also pointed out that the proposed rule would negatively impact conservation funding for the state as well as discouraging participation in the shooting sports and hindering the recruitment of hunters and recreational shooters. Nontraditional ammunition is not as readily available for purchase and is also significantly more expensive than lead ammunition.
The Committee’s decision is now subject to review by Governor Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Governor John Bel Edwards, and CSF will be engaged in the process moving forward to ensure the interests of sportsmen and women are represented.
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?