Op-Ed piece in the May 16th New York Times calling for a ban on lead ammunition and fishing sinkers shows such total ignorance of the issue as to be embarrassing.
First, the piece criticizes EPA for declining to block the use of lead for hunting ammunition and fishing tackle last year, when the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and other anti-hunting groups petitioned for it. In the Times’ opinion, EPA made “the wrong call.”
It wasn’t the wrong call, it was the only call. In their own statement, EPA made it clear the agency “does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),” the position NRA had held all along.
Next, the Times claims, “What needs protecting is wildlife that ingests lead, including migratory waterfowl and birds of prey, notably California condors.”
As virtually every hunter knows, lead shot was banned for hunting migratory waterfowl in 1991. Does the Times think we need to ban it again?
If “birds of prey” includes bald eagles, which anti-hunting groups invariably hold up as a “victim” of lead shot usage, the fact is that their population is literally soaring--breeding pairs of bald eagles increased 724 percent from 1981 to 2006.
As for California condors, the state passed a law in 2007 banning the use of lead ammunition for hunting in condor territory. What more “protection” is needed?
Next, the Times asserts that, “There are perfectly acceptable, nontoxic substitutes” to lead. Actually, the substitutes are often not available in calibers hunters need, and even if they are, they can cost nearly double what traditional ammunition does. That is not what I call “acceptable.” And what's worse is that for every cash-strapped American who quits hunting because costs for ammo, gas, licenses and stamps have just gotten too high, there is that much less funding for wildlife conservation.
The Times also said, “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people show higher levels of lead in their blood after eating game killed with lead shot or bullets.”
CDC considers blood lead levels “elevated” in children when they measure above 10 micrograms per deciliter, and in adults 25 micrograms per deciliter. Yet the highest level in the whole CDC study was 9.8 micrograms per deciliter. Moreover, hunters have eaten venison taken with lead bullets for hundreds of years. Yet there is not one documented case of lead poisoning from eating deer meat. Doctors are required to report all cases of lead poisoning to the CDC, yet according to CDC public health advisor Kimball Credle, no cases have ever been traced to wild game meat.
The Times piece was written in opposition to NRA-backed legislation recently introduced to protect lead-based ammo and fishing tackle. For those interested in the facts—and I wish that included the Times-- click here.