Threat to lead control–Under the leadership of Tom Salo, our Chapter has been in the forefront of an effort to reduce or hopefully eliminate the significant danger that spent lead ammunition poses to wildlife, particularly scavenging birds
such as vultures and eagles. Toxic lead is found in wounded or discarded deer and other animals, and in gut piles left on the
landscape. Birds are particularly susceptible to lead, and injury and mortality from lead poisoning is well-documented. This was a major factor in the near-extinction of California Condors.
Closer to home, we strongly suspect that the disappearance of a Golden Eagle, dubbed Maxine, that we captured and fitted
with a GPS unit in 2014 was a result of lead poisoning. Her last known location was in the vicinity of a pile of feral hogs shot by
government agents using lead ammo. In addition, a Bald Eagle with toxic lead levels was found nearby and subsequently died.
There is also evidence that lead fragments in venison can impact human health.
DOAS’ approach has been to promote non-lead alternatives to hunters through displays, visits to sportsmen’s groups
and discussions with the Department of Environmental Conservation. Regulation of lead ammunition, although
successful in the case of banning lead shot for waterfowl hunting, is unlikely to come about in NY State anytime soon, given the
current political climate. However, the federal Environmental Protection Agency could take action under the Toxic Substances Act—as the country has done so with lead in gasoline, paint, toys, plumbing and other sources of this dangerous material. The EPA has been hesitant to act—again due to political pressures. And now, legislation has been proposed in Congress that would prevent the EPA from addressing lead contamination through ammunition.
Passage of this bill—the “Sportsmen’s Act of 2015” would mean that the threat of lead to birds, other wildlife, and humans would be embedded in law, and likely never be addressed. Not only would this make permanent an ongoing danger to wildlife and humans, but it would set a precedent for Congress to override the scientific process and public involvement that is required when considering regulations. The legislation has any number of additional anti-wildlife provisions including allowing the import of 41 sport-hunted polar bear “trophies” from Canada. Polar bears are protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and the trade and import of their parts violates federal law. Giving an exemption to the trophy hunters that killed these bears would put polar bears– and other imperiled species–at risk. Also, the bill would require federal agencies to open up millions of acres of public lands to hunting and trapping. This provision could wreak havoc on endangered and threatened species like wolves, grizzly bears, and wolverines. Giving the green light to yet more indiscriminate trapping would put native species of all kinds at untold risk.
Further increasing the threat of lead, the measure currently before the Senate would direct land managers to build or expand
shooting ranges on public lands. Outdoor shooting ranges have been found to be major sources of environmental lead
What you can do—Contact US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and ask them to oppose the Sportsmen’s Act
of 2015, S.405. Point out that lead ammo is a proven cause of death of eagles and other birds in NY State—including locally,
and that this toxic material should not be exempted from regulations to protect wildlife and human health.
Sen. Charles Schumer:
Mail: US Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6542
Fax: (202) 228-3027
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:
Mail: US Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4451
Fax: (202) 228-0282
~ by Andy Mason