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Local news outlets often choose to ignore readily-available data and instead “report” on a topic using only one-sided activist talking points. It’s a disservice to viewers and leads to bad policy.

Case in point is the push to enact bans on traditional lead-based ammunition that have become increasingly popular despite clear science showing they are harmful to conservation and wildlife management efforts.

California is ground zero.

Ninety-Nine Percent Bias

A particularly egregious perpetrator of this practice is John FitzRandolph, a freelance writer for the San Luis Obispo Tribune. He often writes about California condors and their recovery from near extinction. Instead of including the positive role hunters in California have played in the raptor’s successful and ongoing comeback, he ignores them completely and suggests the need for even more anti-hunting restrictions.

FitzRandolph’s latest uses the death of one California condor due to lead poisoning, offering no evidence that it was hunter- or ammunition-related, to cast blame on hunters writ large and to dollar shame them for not using more expensive, less available alternative ammunition options. He ignores that condors are known to consume lead from other sources, including trash and refuse fills, garbage piles and even by ingesting lead-based paint chips from water towers and man-made structures where they’ve nested. FitzRandolph even uses an outdated photo from 2012 of an x-ray showing a condor with bullet fragments.

California Condor
California condors huddle around a watering hole in the Ventana Wilderness east of Big Sur, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

“As scavengers, condors rely on carrion – the carcasses of deer, squirrels and marine mammals – for food,” FitzRandolph writes. “When a condor’s meal has been killed with lead bullets, studies show that they often become poisoned and perish.”

The article extensively quotes local biologists connecting hunters’ use of traditional lead-based ammunition as the culprit.

“If lead poisoning wasn’t such a huge problem, condors would have been expected to reach (150) by 2025,” Ventana Wildlife Society (VWS) Executive Director Kelly Sorenson explained. “The fact remains, condors can only be self-sustaining when lead poisoning is significantly reduced.”

The anti-hunter, anti-science bias is clear. Despite repeated attacks on California hunters, the population of California condors has risen from 14 in 2000 to nearly 100 today. California legislators in 2019 enacted a complete ban on the use of traditional hunting ammunition and according to California Department of Natural Resources data, California hunters have a nearly 99 percent compliance rate. There isn’t much more room for traditional ammunition to be “significantly reduced.”

FitzRandolph even attempts to assuage hunters’ hesitancy about switching ammunition by noting they are eligible to receive one 20-round box of lead-free ammunition per calendar year, as if that is a serious trade-off.

From California to Maine

The effort to restrict and shame hunters isn’t solely a California thing. Local news articles use the same flawed logic in Raleigh, N.C.Bangor, MaineWashington State, MinnesotaNorth Dakota,Michigan and elsewhere and use America’s bald eagles to tug at the public’s heartstrings to gain support for traditional ammunition bans.

Regarding the bald eagle, there’s no greater success story among American conservation. The significant contributions America’s hunters have made can’t be ignored.

Bald Eagle
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

In 1963, there were only 417 nesting pairs. Those dire days are long gone. The Department of the Interior released a 2020 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) report celebrating the 71,400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states, and more than 316,000 individual birds. The bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland praised the bald eagles’ return, saying, “The recovery of the bald eagle is one of the most well-known conservation success stories of all time.”

Flawed Federal Policy

When local news reporting repeats this anti-hunter flawed narrative it has national implications.

Last year, the USFWS announced a “bait-and-switch” deal that banned the use of traditional ammunition while at the same time opening 18 national wildlife refuges for new hunting and fishing opportunities. It was a ruse.

Despite promises from President Joe Biden that his administration would “follow the science,” the USFWS offered no objective scientific evidence establishing that the use of traditional lead core ammunition poses a risk wildlife populations to support its ban.

Hunting rifle ammunition ammo bullets

When hunters are limited in land access and what affordable ammunition they can use, they will instead choose a different activity. That hurts the American public who enjoy access to public lands, not just hunters. It also means less support for the firearm and ammunition industry who pay the Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that go into the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund and get distributed back to the states for wildlife conservation and management projects.

Created in 1937, firearm and ammunition manufacturers have contributed over $22.4 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. America’s wildlife populations have never been healthier and that’s the science and success that local media and writers like FitzRandolph should report.


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

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    • RGP, I met a guy who casts copper into bullion and sells it, and other things, at a flea market. I’m sure that molten copper would flow into a Lyman/Keith bullet mold. Doesn’t solve the expense problem, but it may solve the roll your own thing.

      • Great article, Mike. I appreciate your work, I’m now creating over $35,000 dollars each month simply by doing a simple job online! I do know you are currently making a lot of greenbacks online from $28,000 dollars, it’s simple online operating jobs.
        Just open the link….

        • Gosh, you’re right…”Larry Keane” sounds just like “Mike”.

          Really, Dan/TTAG? My perfectly valid comments continued to get modded and even outright blocked, but this spam keeps getting through no problem?

        • “…modded and even outright blocked…”

          Same here Haz. Most posts I submit from my office system on weekdays go through. For awhile there, the only posts from home that went through on weekends, were those I sent via my phone’s internet connection. I could submit a post through my home DSL, and it would be blocked. If I set up my mobile as a hotspot and connected through it instead, and then submitted a freshly blocked copy/pasted post, it would then get through. Now, even those are routinely blocked. I’m down to posting from my office system.

      • Yeah, I guess copper would work, but wouldn’t gold or platinum be better? I know it doesn’t solve the “expense problem,” but, hey, if you want to hunt and shoot, no price is too high, right? I mean, if it saves just one bird or one snail darter from extinction……..

    • Rotsa ruck on that one.

      There is, for all practical purposes, a near-infinite quantity of easily harvested lead available from car and truck batteries available. Oh, and car tire balancing weights…

  1. And yet, would these same people do a story on the large number of bald eagles and other such birds killed annually by the folly of wind turbines?
    Of course not. It would not fit their overall agenda.

    • Good point. I friggin hate windmills.
      I saw a picture of a pile of dead bats and birds at the bottom of a windmill.
      The bats die from blown lungs as the skirt the blades and the pressure pulses.
      No bats, we get mosquitoes and diseases.

  2. I am personally getting interested in unleaded ammo but it does come with a higher price so it is harder to buy as much. Even though my desires have nothing to do with any of this stuff.

    Regardless of who asks or why, Biden has no interest in ‘the science’. He likely doesn’t even understand the concept in the first place. Most of the left doesn’t. Any hint of such things are nothing more than on-the-surface feelgoodism.

    I do wonder though why it is that the animals shot by hunters are left behind for these birds to eat on to begin with. Would a more skilled hunter (even with lead ammo) prevent this? Is THAT really what all this comes down to? I’m sure sometimes the target simply gets away and becomes impossible to find after the fact but is THAT actually what is happening here?

    • that’s the problem, as mentioned in the article here. I’m sure at one point or another a study came out linking lead from hunting to condor deaths.

      But as was foisted in the mentioned article, there is NO mention of where the lead is actually coming from here. The intent is to get you to correlate hunting with bird deaths, but without providing a link between the two, probably because it doesn’t exist, or is a disproportionately small number. But undoubtedly anti-gun and anti-hunting sentiments run equally strong in many, so two birds with one stone, so to say.

      People die in car accidents. We found food from fast food restaurants in some of these people’s cars. Ban fast food to save lives. Same idiotic/manipulative thought process.

    • Decades ago it was a rare/notible event to see ONE bald eagle. Now it is a daily event to see multiple. The birds are everywhere in NE Iowa. Had Nothing to do with bunnyhugger grinding on DDT, lead, or “climate change”.

      Obiden can’t SPELL “the” much less “science”.

  3. Of course, this begs the question: Does Biden recommend steel, or bismuth, when discharge a shotgun from a balcony?

  4. Don’t you reckon that game that got away is a statistically insignificant part of their diet? I’m sure they get a lot more roadkill. I have about 600# of lead and moulds for everything. I’ll load my own damn ammunition, thank you very little.

  5. If the ingestion of lead by condors or eagles was really a problem, how does one also address the explosion in populations of common crows and various vultures, all of which eat the same carrion as the eagles and condors do?

    When I was a kid, it was rare to see a bald eagle. There were few crows and no vultures in E Central Iowa. Now, there are nesting pairs of eagles in all 99 Iowa counties, but the number of crows and vultures have soared.

    In IA and MN, there has been a huge push to ban lead from everything, trying to make it the “next mercury”. Anyone hunting on public land in Iowa must now use non-toxic shot- a real oxygen-moron that only a governmental agency could come up with. Add to this the push in both states to ban lead sinkers in fishing. Lead is also now absent from wheel weights in both states. These ridiculous bans are merely designed to add miles of red tape these activities, grow government influence and reduce normal people’s access.

  6. I have to wonder how many autopsies have been performed on these “condors” verifying this guy’s contention.

    • If you mean how many did you eat Waldo, then how did you lose count?
      You probably have been eating lead for a very long time.
      You do know that there is all copper and steel bird shot Chuckles.
      Didn’t the NRA tell you? After all, you are besties with Mr. LaPierre.
      How do you like being stalked? It’s not fun but lets keep going.
      I’ll be back, I have an actual business to run and it’s lunchtime.

      Talk to you later Wally Lizzo III

      • Eating carrion is more your style. So what if there is copper and steel bird shot. Lead does just as good or better. Didn’t your mommy tell you that? I have in fact met Mr LaPierre. He’s a better man than you. Of course that would not be hard. Snobs like you are a dime a dozen. Follow me to your little heart’s content, if it helps your ego.
        I am sure you do have a business to run. The business of sewer cleaning (where you get your next meal?)
        Have a good day. See ya soon!

  7. Sorry to sound so anti-woke, but, I don’t give a rats ass about any nasty carrion eating scavenger birds. We’ve got about a billion turkey buzzards where I live. They serve a purpose eating road kills and such. Other than that I can’t think of a reason that I’d miss them. I think the condors are just a bigger version of the same thing. Things go extinct for any number of reasons. That’s just life.

  8. Banning lead bullets is part of a two-part strategy:
    1) Ban all lead bullets as “toxic” or “bad for the environment.”
    2) Ban all lead-free bullets as “armor piercing.” The Feds have already defined beryllium copper as “armor piercing,” and soon they’ll define all copper as “armor piercing.”

    Once they’ve accomplished both steps, all law-abiding Americans will be disarmed, as guns are useless without ammunition. That’s their ultimate goal, to make sure the only people who have guns or ammunition are the government and the criminals.

        • There is ZERO ammo at your “local armory” unless it is a mil police unit. NG/Reserve units draw their ammo from state ASP when doing range weekends. Has been this way for many decades when the gangs of the protected class started breaking into armories in the 60s (might get auto individual and crew weapons but no ammo to shoot out of them).

  9. I remember a study at a particular goose and duck hunting intensive wetland. The birds were picking up less pellets and getting poisoned slowly. So they obliged steel. The population plummeted. Autopsy found gizzard bleeds as that is what iron does. They tested several shot types and in a bizarre twist the bismuth birds did better than birds eating rocks. Turns out the bismuth helped their gizzards and increased health.

      • “As we’re sung to sleep by philosophies that save the trees and kill the children.” Will we keep sleeping? Push enough to self-mutilate or suppress with ‘hormone therapy’ and you’re pushing on the downward slope for population control. (Oh–and importing replacements that are much more easily ‘compliant’ to whatever BigBiggerBiggest.Gov says.) Easy-peasey.

        • R Kurdna, its not surprising that the bismuth birds did well, especially with their heartburn, nausea, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea… without the pink goo and wierd taste, bismuth is what pepto bismol is made out of.
          Lord knows I’ve been quaffing the shit down since TheBiden came on !!

      • Or duck hunt with .223? Or slugs? Buckshot?
        I think the story was that the bottom wasn’t mucky there so spent shot was available to be picked up. Birds need to swallow small stones to digest.
        I suppose dropping a bunch of grit sized gravel might have helped.
        Or in these unusual places require non lead non steel shot.

  10. About 20 years ago it was discovered that China was funding a lobbyist group to ban lead in bullets. The root cause was surplus Tungsten in China. Old lightbulb sales are down.

  11. Growing up in Alaska I must have been lucky. Cause i remember seeing at least 40 eagles in one tree. Actually, Eagles were everywhere, at the mouth of very river and creek, Feeding on Salmon. I never believed they were endangered, Just more BS from the Sierra club. The lead from lead shot or bullets amounts to less than 1 tenth of a percent of the lead ingested by bird of prey. It is simply not true.
    Consider this, every vehicle for the last 80 years has had lead wheel weights for balancing the tire and wheel assembly. How many wheel weights ended up in the ditches throughout the nation and contaminated the water table during rain storms. That is the problem, not bullets, but once again brains filled with mush can’t comprehend simple logic.

  12. Long ago I saw bullet jacket forming dies.
    You went from sheets of guilding metal, forming and annealing a few times to a jacket then filled with lead (soft plumbers). Ton of work but very cool.


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