Safari Club International (SCI) supports the proposal by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in its draft 2022-2023 Hunt Fish Rule to reduce the regulatory burden on the public by increasing access for hunters on federal lands and waters. Our organization, however, strongly opposes the agency’s proposal to phase out lead ammunition in National Wildlife Refuges throughout the country. The rule would also prohibit the use of lead fishing tackle.
Despite claims by the USWFS, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that hunting with lead ammunition can cause significant harm to habitat, animals, or the consumption of extracted meat. It certainly does not warrant a ban or phaseout from the federal government.
Anti-lead advocates will argue that lead alternatives are readily available and just as cost-effective as lead. This is utterly false. Amid a continuing nation-wide ammo shortage, banning lead on certain federal lands will undoubtedly create cost barriers to access of public lands, and will keep many sportsmen and women, especially new hunters and those without knowledge or financial means to acquire alternatives, from hunting across our country.
Traditional lead-based ammunition is easier and cheaper to manufacture, and is therefore less costly than alternatives, helping hunting remain accessible and lowering the barrier to entry. Any attempt to restrict its use on public lands is simply another effort to whittle down the size of the hunting community—the backbone of wildlife conservation. Men and women across the country already face enough unnecessary barriers to hunting on top of rising prices for everything else in their lives– scarce and expensive ammunition should not be added to the list.
Making it more difficult to hunt, through prohibiting lead ammunition or otherwise, would also undermine the success of the Pittman-Robertson Act. This widely popular law allocates millions of federal dollars from an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and other sporting goods to all 50 states and territories for conservation efforts. With fewer hunters afield due to increased cost, federally supported maintenance and support projects for our public lands will be in unprecedented financial jeopardy.
“Safari Club International will continue fighting against misguided federal restrictions and regulations on lead that have no basis in science. We call on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove this unwarranted poison pill from its latest Hunt-Fish rule before untold damage is done to the freedom to hunt, and to the hunting community’s access to public lands,” said SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin.