The Case for Lead Ammunition in Maine

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States Program Assistant

Highlights

  • On April 5, the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife held a public hearing on LD 1015 – legislation that would ban the use of lead ammunition while hunting.
  • Pushes for lead ammunition bans often stem from solitary incidents of a bird consuming lead bullet fragments and becoming ill/dying, though it is widely understood and accepted that all fish and wildlife management decisions must be based on population-level trends and impacts.
  • Contrary to the rhetoric that is often pushed by proponents of these bans, non-lead ammunition options are typically sparse, and significantly more expensive compared to traditional lead options.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, submitted a letter of opposition for LD 1015 and testified against it during the April 5 Committee hearing.

Why it Matters: Fish and wildlife management decisions must be made in consideration of a species population as a whole, and not reliant on an isolated incident. Proposals to ban lead ammunition are commonly brought forth by raptor rehabilitation centers under the auspices that these bans will somehow rectify individual cases of birds that have died after ingesting lead fragments. Legislative bans on lead ammunition not only usurp the sound, science-based decision-making of state fish and wildlife agencies, but they serve as a significant hurdle for existing sportsmen and women and as a barrier to entry for potential new participants. Non-lead ammunition options are presently not widely available in Maine, and when found on the market, usually carry steep prices compared to their lead counterparts. The decision  to make the switch to a lead alternative ammunition should be left to sportsmen and women.

When deciding whether to use non-lead ammunition, sportsmen and women are often faced with two primary considerations: whether alternative ammunition types are readily available, and whether the price tag that these options carry is prohibitive. Across the nation, spring turkey seasons are heating up, yet demand for ammunition is so high that hunters are finding empty shelves. In conjunction with this reality, nontraditional ammunition is significantly more expensive than lead shot and is not nearly as obtainable for purchase.

Lead ammunition bans reflect a general lack of understanding – and in many cases, a lack of appreciation  for the important role that sportsmen and women have for conservation efforts throughout the country. By way of the American System of Conservation Funding, each pull of the trigger symbolizes a contribution made to this unique “user pays – public benefits” structure. Curbing the abilities of sportsmen and women to utilize certain types of ammunition-- and preventing the recruitment and retention of new entrants-- only serves to undercut funding for state fish and wildlife agencies, such as the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, submitted a letter of opposition to the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and testified against LD 1015 during its April 5 hearing. CSF will continue to remain engaged on the issue, and updates will be provided as they are made available.

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