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Bill Reintroduced To Stop Ban Of Traditional Ammo, Tackle

U.S. Senator Steve Daines led a group of 23 of his colleagues to introduce a bill to prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from banning the use of traditional lead ammunition or tackle on public lands unless such action is supported by the best available science and state wildlife and fish agencies.

“Sportsmen are the original conservationists and play an important role in wildlife management — the last thing we should do is limit their access to public lands by implementing a blanket- ban on traditional ammo and tackle, reduce revenue for important state wildlife and conservation programs in the process,” Daines said. “Outdoor recreation is part of our Montana way of life — I’ll keep fighting to protect our hunting and fishing legacy and ensuring these decisions are guided by science, not politics.”

Last year, FWS entered into settlement negotiations with activist organizations over a lawsuit regarding the use of traditional ammunition and tackle on over three million acres of federal land. Daines led a group of his colleagues in urging FWS Director Martha Williams not to cave in to activists’ calls to restrict the use of lead ammo and tackle on public lands.

Senators John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), James Risch (Idaho), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Rick Scott (Fla.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Pete Ricketts (Neb.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) John Hoeven (N.D.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Deb Fischer (Neb), Tom Cotton (Ark.), John Thune (S.D.), Ted Budd (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) joined Daines’ bill.

“This legislation ensures that conservation policies are firmly rooted in sound scientific evidence and not driven by special-interest anti- hunting groups,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “Threats to wildlife conservation come not only from groups opposed to hunting, but also through policies that threaten the primary source of conservation funds. The firearm and ammunition industry was directly responsible for $1.15 billion Pittman-Robertson taxes of the record-breaking $1.6 billion apportioned to the states through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for state conservation and education programs in 2022 alone. Federal rules that prohibit the use of traditional lead ammunition on National Wildlife Refuges are devoid of any scientific evidence that shows a causational linkage between the use of traditional ammunition and a population level decline of a species. These misguided policies only seek to divorce the firearm and ammunition industry, and the hunters that support these conservation funds by purchasing these products, from the wildlife and habitats these tax dollars are responsible for perpetuating. NSSF commends Senator Daines for his leadership to ensure the American Wildlife Conservation Model remains the gold standard for the world to emulate.”

“The sportfishing industry is grateful to Sen. Daines for introducing the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act of 2023,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Decisions about the tackle anglers are allowed to use must be based on science, not emotion. This bill will uphold state fish and wildlife agencies as the proper authorities to make science- based determinations around lead fishing tackle.”

“The broad-brush federal application of non-toxic, lead-free shot in regulation, has and will continue to create barriers to participation and criminals out of hunters while offering no measurable conservation benefit,” said Mac Minard, executive director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association. “In most cases where this regulation has been applied, there was no documented problem and no demonstrated benefit and while it may be trendy to issue such blanket regulations, MOGA does not support regulation just for regulation’s sake. Tie it to a demonstrated cause and effect and we will support, otherwise focus on issues that accomplish something; like delisting grizzly bears.”

“It is critical in all areas but certainly in fish and wildlife that we follow sound scientific practices on a case by case basis,” said Robert Cartlidge, president and CEO of The Bass Federation and The Walleye Federation. “History has proven there are no better stewards and supporters of fish, game, conservation and our natural resources than Anglers and Hunters and we would not support anything that would endanger those resources. Frankly, these attempted “blanket” bans are simply more federal overreach forced onto the American people to support someone’s woke pet project that accomplish’ s nothing more than to drive up costs in this economy to people who can least afford it and just want to go fishing. As supporters of fisheries conservation for 50 years, to our knowledge there is no tech paper, study or wide spread support by front line state fish and game agency’s, that are in support of these types of “one size fits all” bans by a federal agency. Certainly the nationwide membership of both The Bass Federation and The Walleye Federation with chapters in 49 states and tens of thousands of conservation minded members do not support these bans that effect millions of acres of publicly owned resources when it is purely political overreach and there is simply no science or data to support it. We do however fully support this proposed legislation by Senator Daines and others to add some common sense and responsible conservation measures into the process.”

“It’s clear that promoting alternatives, instead of prohibiting traditional ammunition, is a more productive direction for lead policy,” said Tony Schoonen, chief executive officer of the Boone and Crockett Club. “The Boone and Crockett Club is concerned about efforts to arbitrarily limit the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle, and we appreciate Sen. Daines’ leadership in curtailing these proposals. Scientific inquiry is fundamental to how federal and state fish and wildlife agencies manage our natural resources. If an individual agency decides that lead exposure prevents them from meeting a population management objective for a particular species in a given area, it should be up to that agency to implement targeted solutions that do not unnecessarily restrict hunting, fishing, or shooting opportunities.”

“The NDA thanks Sen. Daines for reintroducing the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, which will ensure continued access for both on federal public lands,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of the National Deer Association. “Decision making requirements founded in strong science and wildlife agency support are fundamental to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. If lead-use changes must be made to benefit wildlife management programs, the NDA believes that any transition from lead to non-lead ammunition for hunting should be voluntary and incentive-based, focusing on educating hunters and shooters about non-lead alternatives and the efficacy and availability of non-lead ammunition.”

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