For Immediate Release
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185
60-Plus Groups Call for Removing Toxic Lead From Ammunition, Fishing Tackle
Environmental Protection Agency to ban toxic lead in bullets and shotgun pellets
used for hunting and in fishing lures and sinkers. The Center for Biological
Diversity and a coalition of conservation, hunting and veterinary groups
petitioned EPA in early August for the ban on lead, a substance that needlessly
kills and harms millions of wild birds and other animals every year and
endangers public health. Since the petition was filed, groups representing
birders, hunters, zoologists, scientists, American Indians, physicians,
veterinarians and public employees have signed on in support.
“It’s encouraging to see so many types of organizations unite for the common
goal of ending lead poisoning of wildlife in this country,” said the Center’s
Major efforts to control lead in paint, gasoline and other products have
reduced lead in the environment, but lead from hunting and fishing is still a
widespread wildlife killer, harming bald eagles, trumpeter swans, endangered
California condors and others.
The petition submitted by the Center and allies referenced nearly 500
peer-reviewed scientific papers on the poisoning risk to wildlife from spent
lead ammunition and fishing tackle. While the EPA is still considering the
request for regulation of lead fishing tackle, it has indicated it will deny the
portion of the petition regarding lead ammunition, claiming it lacks authority
to regulate ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act. But the plain
language of the Act, as well as Senate and House reports on its legislative
history and intent, clearly state that the EPA has the authority to regulate
such hazardous chemical components of ammunition as lead bullets and shot.
“The unnecessary poisoning of eagles, condors, swans, loons and other
wildlife is a national tragedy, especially given what we know about how toxic
lead is to wildlife. Extensive science links lead poisoning in wildlife to spent
ammunition and fishing weights. Now that there are safe and available
alternatives for these outdoor sports, there’s no good reason for this poisoning
to continue,” said Miller. “Getting the lead out for wildlife is in line with
traditional American conservation, hunting and fishing values.”
Lead is an extremely toxic substance, dangerous to people and animals even at
low levels. Exposure can cause death or severe health effects, including reduced
reproduction, inhibition of growth and neurological damage. Animals are poisoned
when they scavenge on carcasses containing lead-bullet fragments or ingest spent
lead-shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit.
Animals that survive lead poisoning can still suffer for years from its
debilitating effects. An estimated 10 to 20 million birds and other animals die
each year from lead poisoning in the United States.
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