Dan Z. for TTAG
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The Biden administration, which pledged to “follow the science,” has had a change of heart. Science no longer matters when it comes to their plans to ban traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a hearing to discuss Rep. Rob Wittman’s (R-Va.) H.R. 615, Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act. The NSSF-supported legislation would require the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to provide site-specific peer-reviewed scientific data that demonstrates traditional lead ammunition or fishing tackle is causing detrimental wildlife population impacts before prohibiting their use by hunters and anglers.

This matters because the fundamental principle undergirding the science of wildlife management is that you manage populations.

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The legislation is in response to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) pulling its own bait-and-switch that put hunters and anglers in a bind last year. USFWS published its rule after a “sue-and-settle” scheme where the antihunting group Center For Biological Diversity sued USFWS to end the use of traditional ammunition on federal lands and USFWS immediately entered into a settlement agreement.

USFWS opened or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 18 National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) but prohibited the use of traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle in a phased-in approach. The USFWS, according to their press release announcing the plan, indicated that this measure is based on the best scientific data available; however, no data indicates that traditional ammunition is causing population declines of any wildlife species at any of the refuges.

The Department of the Interior’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks testified before the committee and essentially said, “We don’t need scientific studies. Trust us.”

That’s going to be a problem.

‘Trust me’ … No Thanks

“I think we ought to make sure that decisions are made based on sound science,” explained Rep. Wittman of his bill. “Where there is a relationship between the use of lead, whether it’s ammunition or for fishing sinkers or for that matter lures… to just carte-blanche say that we’re going to allow agencies to ban lead across the spectrum just doesn’t make good sense.

“This bill allows us to make sure that there are the necessary science-based guardrails on how these decisions are made,” Rep. Wittman added.

Lawmakers had reasons to doubt the Biden administration on the “trust us” approach to banning traditional lead ammunition. First and foremost is the administration’s myopic focus on gun control. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Ala.) questioned the motives behind the administration’s insistence on banning traditional lead ammunition. Alternative ammunition is more expensive and less available. The increased costs would limit availability to gun owners that are hunters and non-hunters who might shoot recreationally on federal lands.

“Trust me. I’m from the government. You can trust me. That is such BS,” Rep. Carl said. “I’m smart enough to know if you’re going to control guns – you cannot control guns. You cannot mandate guns, but what you can mandate is the ammo. And that’s what this lead bill is after. I’m sorry. That’s my personal feeling… if you can control the lead that goes in those bullets, you get it overpriced where the average person can’t afford it, that will be the ultimate case right there.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary Stricker bristled at the requirement of Rep. Wittman’s bill that scientific data and cooperation with state fish and wildlife agencies should drive the decision at each site where the federal government wants to ban traditional ammunition and fishing tackle. Instead, he believes that USFWS should be applied to broadly existing studies across the entirety of the United States. In his estimation, what is happening in Alaska with wildlife is the same as what is happening in Southern California, or Florida for that matter.

“But at the end of the day there’s a national interest in these conservation lands even if they are located within a state or straddle a couple of states that we need to be cognizant of and that the Fish & Wildlife Service has a responsibility to steward those lands,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Stricker said. “Partnering with the states is one thing. Having to ask them for permission is quite another.”

Show Me the Science

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) pressed Deputy Assistant Secretary Strickler on his abdication of science to push the Biden administration’s attack on hunters and anglers.

“It seems you’re saying data and science to be a bad thing…” Rep. LaMalfa said in his questions. “Why shouldn’t the government, in this case, have to gain proof like are the lead levels actually affecting the wildlife we’re talking about in these units? Why shouldn’t government have to show through data that there’s an effect before it jumps in with a policy action?”

Deputy Assistant Secretary Strickler attempted to justify the “no studies needed” approach by explaining that loons feeding behavior in Maine is the same as in Michigan. That ignores, however, that loons are not native to Virginia, Florida or Arizona. Banning traditional ammunition to protect loons in states where they don’t exist isn’t sound science.

“By that measure, we would ban things that have not reached a level of action across the board if they’ve done it somewhere else,” Rep. LaMalfa explained. “If you had a fuel spill somewhere that greatly affected a body of water, if there’s a potential of a fuel spill near a different body of water than there, then it’s like we should ban all fuel. That’s the same kind of logic.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary Strickler disagreed, of course.

“Should we ban all lead shot? Ban all lead tackle?” Rep. LaMalfa asked.

“That’s certainly not the policy of the Department of the Interior to ban all lead shot and tackle,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Strickler responded.

“It’s effectively doing so,” Rep. LaMalfa said to end the exchange.

Conservation Impacts

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) wanted to know the potential impacts such a ban might have on wildlife conservation. Firearm and ammunition manufacturers have paid over $16 billion, or $25 billion when adjusted for inflation, in Pittman-Robertson excise taxes to the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund since 1937. That’s benefited all Americans with abundant wildlife and habitat restoration along with access to public lands for hunters, anglers and other recreationists.

New York wildlife management
Sonny Knowlton, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician, replaces mallard duck nests in preparation for the spring mating season during the chilly winter weather on the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area in Tonawanda, N.Y., (AP Photo/David Duprey)

Rep. Westerman wanted to know what happens when the cost of ammunition goes up. Would hunters absorb those costs or quit hunting and would Pittman-Robertson conservation funds suffer?

Todd Adkins, Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Vice President of Government Affairs, said he witnessed duck hunters abandon the field over the cost of increased alternative ammunition required for waterfowl hunting. It’s a pattern, he said, that would repeat itself.

“I believe because of the effects that any increase in cost will have on hunters and anglers – the financial backbone – we have to spend some time with that question and not just suggest that everything will remain static and everything’s going to be fine and the world won’t change,” Adkins said. “We know it will change if you increase costs.”

Adkins pointed out that Rep. Wittman’s legislation requiring site-specific scientific data in cooperation with state fish and wildlife agencies is the key to solving the impasse. That’s what NSSF has been saying all along. Let the science drive the decisions instead of pressures by antihunting groups to force through feel-good measures that will harm wildlife conservation in the long run.

“I called it in my testimony elegant simplicity,” Adkins said of the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act. “This was carefully crafted to address the principal problem of the approach taken by many of the agencies right now. Very straightforward, very simple to ask that the science we’re going to utilize to kick hunters and anglers off the landscape is actually directly tied to the unit under consideration.”


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.


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  1. No bans on lead ammo in the late 1700s.

    Fuck ’em and feed ’em rice. They get the ‘Bruen’ treatment…

  2. Follow the science! To the Dimocrats, politics is a science. So by following politics they are following science.

  3. I don’t trust the NSSF either They have sold out their own customers before for 30 pieces of silver when horse-trading with our rights and will do it again no doubt. I wouldn’t trust Larry Keane further than pp would dribble out a limp Richard with a bad prostrate issue.

  4. “False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.” ~ Cesare Beccaria (1738 – 1794)

    • You and I are both getting older, JWM. That’s life.

      But when you get so old you forget that you’ve been away for a number of months, it really is time to hang it up.

      Check this noise out :

      “When another reporter asked how colleagues had been responding to her return to the Senate, Feinstein said, “No, I haven’t been gone…You should follow the—I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”

      Charitably exploring the best possible interpretation, the reporter asked, “You’ve been working from home…is what you’re saying?”

      “No,” replied an increasingly irritated Feinstein. “I’ve been here. I’ve been voting. Please. Either know or don’t know.” Feinstein missed more than 90 floor votes while she recuperated in San Francisco.

      After deflecting a question about Democratic House reps calling for her resignation, she was wheeled off before she could do more damage.”


  5. Scientific studies on wild ducks both live and dead proved high consentrations of lead over wildfowl shooting areas and not only in the U.S.

    HERE IS AN ARGENTINE STUDY: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24314629/

    HERE IS A 1983 TO 1986 U.S. STUDY: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9732484/

    HERE IS A 1970 U.S. STUDY: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9732484/

    HERE IS A STUDY ON LEAD POISONING IN BRITISH DUCKS. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0006320783900903

    • Who still trusts studies after the global warming fiasco and the covid scamdemic? Nobody but an uneducated moron still believe the science community isn’t as corrupted by politics and greed as bidens doj and fbi.

      You must be an uneducated moron. Still.

      • Industrial waste lead or firearm related lead? Pretty sure the majority of all lead contamination has nothing to do with hunting or even bullet production.

      • To Jethro the Janitor.

        quote———-Who still trusts studies after the global warming fiasco and the covid scamdemic?——–quote

        With the amount of scientific information available on the internet today its beyond belief that we still have brain dead Neanderthals like Jethro the high school dropout.

        Here is an article from this weeks “Smithsonian” on global warming.

        “The past eight years were the hottest on record globally. In 2015, the likelihood of temporarily hitting the 1.5-degree threshold was close to zero, per the WMO. Between 2017 and 2021, that had risen to 10 percent, and by 2022, it was at almost 50 percent. This January, several countries in Europe smashed temperature records for the month. ”


        • Oh cool they finally stopped using the temperature monitors that were placed in areas that got paved over throughout the decades and used non urban sites and atmospheric data? LOL nope same scam.

        • The 1.5 C Temperature Fiction, Already Exceeded

          It is all over the news, another climate change report from the IPCC – the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Of course, it tells us that the end is nigh unless we do something to prevent temperatures exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, not one of the contributors has any proven capacity to accurately forecast the weather more than a few days in advance, nor much of an idea of the quality of the temperature data inputted into the simulation models claiming the Earth is burning up. Yet they claim to be able to forecast temperatures years in advance and repeat over and over the value of 1.5 C as representing a tipping point.

          The reality is that annual maximum temperatures across Australia were mostly falling, and by much more than 1.5 C, from at least 1910 to 1960 and then increasing, and by more than 1.5 C, since 1960.
          — Watts Up With That, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2023/03/21/the-1-5-c-temperature-fiction-already-exceeded/

        • Dacian probably also believes tree ring data is accurate too.

          Read “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by Andrew Montford. He details all kids of incompetence by researchers and their assistance during the collection of tree ring data. Gems like collecting samples on the wrong sides of the tree, mixing up species of trees, not accounting for tree location in the sample area…on and on.

          The truth is that gathering good data on a global scale is almost impossible with current technologies. Mixing in data collected over a hundred years ago by less skilled folks and you have very unreliable data sets that need to be tortured by statistics to extract any sort of signal.

          The entire field of climate science is plagued by data collected by careless college undergrads and then worked over by professors that MUST publish something to get tenure.

          Finally – mix in outright fraudulent papers from east Asia and you have an entire field that is not worthy of trust.

          These details, however, do not bother the power hungry politicians among us and their idiot supporters.

        • They always refer to the 97% of concerned scientists. Does anyone know whose these scientists are, or how many there are. For being quoted so often, they are sure hard to locate info about.

  6. Take the land away from the Feds and return it back to the states to manage with money to assist in maintaining it. The Federal gov. is only supposed to own land for facilities.

    • Here’s a guy that actually read the constitution. I always hear “but the national parks are amazing” as the justification for federal seizure and control of state lands.

      Why can’t states manage their own parks and land?

      • Because we peons in the West aren’t capable of discerning “tribal heritage sites” as can Biden. His latest round of National Monuments just grabbed a chunk of NV, AZ and UT. He still has 2 years to go, by then there will be a dozen more.

  7. “Partnering with the states is one thing. Having to ask them for permission is quite another.”
    And that right there IS the issue. We ARE a federation of a number of sovereign states. EACH STATE have a say in what affects them. This dweeb is kicking that to the kerb and demanding he have his way.

    Let him throw a hissy fit because we won’t listen to his corrupt and sorry self.

    • If, possibly, the decision to allow the direct election of senators was reversed, we might get back to a bit more of that federation of states ideal but, given that every (non-judicial) government official is elected by 50% 1 of a really badly educated populous, that ideal is well out of reach. Let’s face it, the reason whoever is not in the ideological majority of the SCOTUS whines about the SCOTUS is because they cannot bend it to their will. As designed, the U.S. was supposed to be a nation in which the several states *told* the federal government what they wanted and what it could and could not do except with respect to a few, well established, areas. As it stands, that design has been completely flipped on its head.

    • Congress has 18 enumerated powers. Congress can tax, spend, and legislate to exercise and fulfill those powers.

      Congress does not have the authority to act in an advisory role to the states outside those powers. States are free to govern the people and lands in their borders as they see fit.

  8. Its not “follow the science” so much as, “follow the science we tell you to follow” with the Biden administration.

    • Biden sees/hears the phrase “follow the science” but his remaining nerve bundle processes it as “I want scones” and he begins to think about orange glaze, blueberries, etc. “Yes, we follow the science!”

  9. Likely varies by region and historically relevant population (car) density and concentration of boomers to late gen x if dealing with accumulation in humans. With that said likely several orders of magnitude more relevant than anything propelled by gunpowder.

  10. Man, all I wanted to do was retire, go fishing and hunt a little bit. That’s all.
    I didnt ask for EV’s, trans awakening, peaceful riots,militarized police forces, out of control inflation, pandemics, looming 3rdWW, or Joe Biden.
    I wanna go home.

  11. Pretty sure the Indians used lead bullets too and the Indians were “all about the environment”.

  12. Whenever I hear an unelected bureaucrat say “Trust me” I hear “I’m going to screw you and you’re going to like it”.

  13. This is an old tactic first tried by the Carter administration to try and circumvent the Second Amendment by playing the ‘environmental card’ to dry up personal ownership of firearms. It is the Commie tactic of power and control. Like COVID, ‘green energy’, fossil fuels, education and other aspects of our lives, they want to control everything and everyone. This is the long-term agenda of the Communist takeover of America. Power and control.


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