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 significant 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 populations.
- Recently, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member and past CSC Leader Rep. Rob Wittman (VA) introduced the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act (H.R. 615).
- 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.
- 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.
Recently, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Rep. Rob Wittman 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, any restriction must have the support of the respective state fish and wildlife agency.
Efforts to restrict the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle often ignore many of the existing variables that must be weighed and considered when looking to restrict such methods of take. CSF maintains that any decision that seeks to limit the use of traditional ammo and tackle must be rooted in a scientific process. 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, a highly popular method of take 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.