CSC Member Sen. Daines Introduces Bill to Protect Access for Sportsmen and Women

  • On Thursday, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Sen. Steve Daines (MT) introduced a bill that would protect an important method of take for America’s 55 million sportsmen and women, known as the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act. 
  • Specifically, this bill will ensure that the use of traditional ammunition and tackle is an allowable method of take on certain federally managed lands and waters unless a substantiated scientific and state-supported process has taken place that determines a restriction is necessary.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation maintains that efforts to restrict the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle must be guided by a sound, science-based process that has the support of our state fish and wildlife agencies.

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.

On Thursday, September 22, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Senator Steve Daines introduced the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, a bill that seeks to prevent federal land management agencies from arbitrarily limiting the use of traditional ammunition and tackle.

The Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act prohibits the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, or the U.S. Forest Service from instituting any restrictions on lead ammunition and tackle on Federal land and water unless three triggers are met: decline in wildlife populations at the specific unit as a result of lead ammunition and tackle based on data from that specific unit, restrictions are consistent with state law and the regulations of the state fish and wildlife agency, and the restrictions are approved by 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. First, 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.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work to ensure that hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters are able to use traditional ammunition and tackle unless a scientific process determines that restrictions or closures are warranted.

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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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