March 16th, 2009

National Park Service Bans Lead Ammo and Fishing Tackle

Park Service Lead BanIn an official press release dated March 10, 2009, the National Parks Service (NPS) announced its intention to ban all lead bullets, lead-containing ammunition, and lead fishing tackle in the lands under NPS control.

According to acting National Park Service director Dan Wenk: “Our goal is to eliminate the use of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle in parks by the end of 2010. We want to take a leadership role in removing lead from the environment.”

The NPS announcement has drawn scathing criticism from groups representing hunters and anglers. The National Shooting Sports Foundation called the decision “arbitrary, over-reactive, and not based on science”. According to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, the NPS lead ban “would needlessly push hunters to use more costly bullets made of tungsten, copper, and steel. The restrictions, set to take affect by the end of 2010, were announced without regard to science and without soliciting feedback from sportsmens’ groups.”

Outdoor groups were blind-sided by the NPS policy change, as the Park Service made no effort to consult hunters and fishermen before instituting the “no-lead” policy. “The NPS announcement demonstrates either complete ignorance or complete arrogance as to the effect that this policy will have on hunters,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “There is no science to support NPS’s contention that the use of lead ammunition in hunting is causing environmental contamination, having a negative effect on wildlife, or posing a threat to the health of visitors or park staff. This policy, and the lack of communication in advance with the sportsmen’s community, is a deliberate attempt to reduce the number of people who will want to hunt in the 60 parks that are open to hunting.”

With the Park Service lead ban be fully implemented as planned? We’ll have to see whether the chorus of criticism can derail the NPS policy. Jim Shepherd of the Outdoor Wire writes: “When the National Park Service decided to ban lead in fishing tackle and ammunition from properties under their control, they probably thought this was another of their little surprises that would stay under the radar. Instead, they’ve found themselves justifiably pilloried by a wide array of organizations representing the hunting and fishing communities and several state legislatures who find their capricious rule-making more than a little offensive.”

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