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From Safari Club International . . .

Safari Club International (SCI) has successfully defended a lawsuit brought by anti-hunting groups attempting to ban lead ammunition in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest.

That lawsuit aimed to restrict hunting access on the fabricated grounds of a federal environmental law violation, and the issue has bounced around the courts for the last several years. In April 2021, however, a federal judge once again sided with SCI and the National Rifle Association (NRA) in allowing the use of lead ammunition as provided by Arizona law.

“This ruling not only preserves the freedom to hunt in an accurate, cost-effective, and accessible way, but it also upholds state authority in the regulation of ammunition use on Forest Service lands,” said Laird Hamberlin, CEO of SCI. “And it is yet another SCI win against anti-hunting groups seeking to destroy our hunting heritage.”

The case is part of a long-running series of lawsuits brought by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), a group that opposes hunting, that has challenged the use of lead ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest. CBD has claimed that the U.S. Forest Service violates the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a federal solid waste law, by allowing the use of lead ammo for hunting.

Although this law is typically applied to manufacturing and industrial sites, CBD has tried repeatedly to expand its reach to cover lead ammo left behind in gut piles, arguing that the leftover solid waste has negatively impacted populations of the California condor, which is listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Since the first challenge in 2012, the case has ping-ponged back and forth between the district court in Arizona and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Arizona law permits the use of lead bullets. The CBD cases have been an obvious attempt to diminish state law and move more control to federal regulation. However, the federal government has no authority over ammunition use on the state level, and the judge’s decision affirms that the RRCA, a law intended for industrial waste, cannot be convoluted to limit hunting access.

As SCI has always maintained, hunters, of course, are free to choose alternatives to lead ammunition–yet the choice must remain with the individual hunter. While it is commonly understood that excessive lead exposure can be harmful, there is insufficient research and data to show that hunting with lead ammunition can hurt habitat or wildlife, or humans eating game meat harvested with lead ammunition.

As the NRA has pointed out, California, in 2007, banned the use of lead ammunition for hunting big game in the California Condor zone. Despite 99-percent hunter compliance, the ban has failed to reduce lead poisoning in condors. It is likely that industrial lead compounds, which are much different from the metallic lead used in ammunition, are responsible for many of the lead poisonings falsely attributed to lead ammunition.

A decrease in hunting and the purchase of traditional ammunition would harm wildlife conservation funding. Hunters and target shooters are the largest supporters of conservation through excise taxes levied on ammunition, firearms and hunting equipment by the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, which has generated more than $7.2 billion in funding for wildlife conservation programs.

In fact, lead ammunition often provides a cleaner and deadlier shot, helping to ensure fewer animals are left wounded and that the meat is harvested rather than left in the wild. Lead has been commonly used as the primary ammunition metal for centuries and is a safe and sustainable way to hunt.

Lead ammo is easier and cheaper to manufacture and purchase, helping hunting remain accessible and lowering the barrier to entry. Any attempt to restrict use on public lands is simply another effort to downsize the hunting community.

The use of traditional (lead) ammunition is currently under attack by many anti-hunting groups whose ultimate goal is to ban hunting. SCI will continue to fight and win any attempts to limit our access to hunting and our methods of conservation.

CBD will undoubtedly appeal to the Ninth Circuit once again. Perhaps this time the Ninth Circuit will finally agree with the district court and definitively reject these frivolous CBD attempts to stop the use of traditional lead ammunition.


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  1. Lead ammo is cheaper? These days? At .75 a round, 9 mm is no longer “cheap”! I’ve seen 9 mm SD ammo listed at over $2.00 a round, competing with rifle rounds.
    Yeah, California banned lead core ammo for hunting, first i the south and now state wide. If I recall correctly, they even want to ban lead pistol ammo at out door ranges too. Pretty soon, most of us will be priced out of the market.

    • As much as I wish California would rejoin what’s left of America, I can’t bring myself to pity or even empathize with those who choose to remain there. I would sooner reduce myself to a homeless nomad… an American refugee within his own borders seeking a better life (and maybe a Gen 4 glock 19) across state lines, than to spend one more measly second in that (expletive deleted) God forsaken wasteland. I’d leave my own family behind to get out of commiefornia. Would hardly lose any sleep over the decision.

  2. Crazy as hell the claim that lead poisons wildlife. Laws banning lead shot are spite laws argued and passed by deceitful leftist liberals in act(s) of vengeance against hunters and other conservatives that out-vote their attempts to ban guns and hunting. I stopped hunting waterfowl when the steel shot laws were passed and haven’t been duck or goose hunting since. I will not hunt with steel shot regardless of the alleged reasons it’s needed as most of the data used to support the lead shot ban was based on false statistics anyway.

    • One of the things about lead ammo is that all lead originally came from the earth and it’s not something being “newly created” as a lot of anti-lead ammo leftists would have people believe. Animals have enough sense to not eat pieces of lead they find on the ground and it takes centuries for one lead bullet to turn into lead oxide which makes leeching into water is moot.

      I’ve found brass manufactured back to 1921-27 with my metal detector and probably a few bullets just as old.

      • “Animals have enough sense to not eat pieces of lead they find on the ground”

        Ain’t never been around chickens or any other fowl, apparently.

    • “Crazy as hell the claim that lead poisons wildlife.”

      This again?

      There is one way it most certainly can poison wildlife – If a bird eats a shotgun pellet. Like if a raptor eats a rabbit hit by a shotgun. The bird gut is *highly* acidic, it’s the way they can eat a rotting corpse without getting sick. The low PH ‘sterilizes’ what they digest.

      That low PH ‘leaches’ the lead into a water-soluble form. The ‘Flint water crisis’ happened because the city changed water sources to one with a low PH. That slightly acidic water leached the lead out of the old water pipes…

      • This liberal “what if” bullshit again? I supposed as usual you only read the parts of the article you wanted to hear.

        Get rid of the steel shot mandate. Like the last POTUS election it’s nothing but fraud.

        • I was responding *directly* to your assertion that you consider the claim of “…lead poisons wildlife…” being “crazy as hell”.

          Bird guts are highly acidic, that’s not coming out of my ass, that’s a provable *fact*. Check with any bird expert.

          The lead pellets found on the ground in nature after shooting are stable and considered non-toxic. The Leftist’s claim that those pellets are toxic is bullshit.

          It’s a completely different story when heavy metals are exposed to a low PH, like when in a bird’s gut, they become toxic and poison the birds flesh.

          The situation is nowhere near as bad as the Leftists claim it is, but it is a provable fact it’s real and not a load of utter crap…

        • “Lead isotopic analysis shows that lead-based ammunition is the principle source of lead poisoning in condors.“

          If you need someone to explain exactly what isotopic analysis is, it seems Opossum has some expertise in nuclear physics that you might find helpful.

  3. It’s been common for the bedwetters to try to link lead ingestion poisoning to the bald eagle population as well. It’s all BS. As a kid growing up in the 1950s-60s it was rare to see an eagle along the Mississippi in eastern IA, even in MN. Vultures, large hawks, owls and crows were not common, either.

    It’s now hard to travel anywhere in the Midwest and not see buzzards riding thermals and there seems to be a red-tailed hawk every 3rd phone pole. Not to mention the now-prevalent crow population. They all eat carrion and I doubt there has ever been a larger showing of any of these birds, including bald and golden eagles. It’s just another attempt by Euphorians to try to regulate hunting and shooting out of the American lexicon.

    • “…to try to link lead ingestion poisoning to the bald eagle population as well. It’s all BS.”

      It’s not. See above. The acidic gut of ‘birds of prey’ leaches lead they may have eaten from a rabbit killed by a shotgun blast. Acid makes Pb water-soluble, and nature takes it’s course…

  4. If lead shot or lead bullets were poisoning California Condors, then it would be killing ALL scavengers, like vultures, ravens, eagles, owls, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, mountain lions, etc. Instead, all of these species are at modern highs in Arizona, and continue to increase in numbers. The reality is that the CA Condors are a hold over from the megafauna era before humans came to N America. If it weren’t for human intervention, they would have gone extinct all on their own. We provide them with food, medical care, and raise their offspring from eggs and release them back into the environment.

    • “We illustrate these challenges with a multidisciplinary study of one of the world’s rarest birds—the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus). California condors were brought to the brink of extinction, in part, because of lead poisoning, and lead poisoning remains a significant threat today. We evaluated individual lead-related health effects, the efficacy of current efforts to prevent lead-caused deaths, and the consequences of any reduction in currently intensive management actions. Our results show that condors in California remain chronically exposed to harmful levels of lead; 30% of the annual blood samples collected from condors indicate lead exposure (blood lead ≥ 200 ng/mL) that causes significant subclinical health effects, measured as >60% inhibition of the heme biosynthetic enzyme δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase. Furthermore, each year, ∼20% of free-flying birds have blood lead levels (≥450 ng/mL) that indicate the need for clinical intervention to avert morbidity and mortality. Lead isotopic analysis shows that lead-based ammunition is the principle source of lead poisoning in condors. Finally, population models based on condor demographic data show that the condor’s apparent recovery is solely because of intensive ongoing management, with the only hope of achieving true recovery dependent on the elimination or substantial reduction of lead poisoning rates.“

  5. Darn those pesky scientists, always doing their ‘research’ and taking all the fun out of poisoning the environment!

    After all, who needs all them dumb old birds anyway, they are as useless as the bees and butterflies, right?

    I begin to understand why it was so easy for the New York city slicker Trump to bamboozle you folks…

  6. I want to make sure to get this right, they are concerned about lead bullets? Really? Yet every car on the road has lead wheel weights that are flung off into the ditch daily, but they are upset about someone hunting with lead bullets. The stupidity is amazing. Morons!

  7. “The stupidity is amazing. Morons!”

    Yes, it was incredibly stupid to use lead wheel weights. Thankfully, they have been banned in California for 10 years.

    “In California, lead wheel weights are defined by a new law, California Health and Safety Code Sections 25215.6-25215.7, as any weights containing more than 0.1 percent lead. The law took effect January 1, 2010, and applies whether wheel weights are installed on a new vehicle or removed and reinstalled during wheel balancing. Cars and trucks manufactured on or after January 1, 2010, and sold in California, must have lead-free weights. Vehicles manufactured in 2009 or before must switch to lead-free weights whenever the tires are changed or rebalanced.”

    Unfortunately, it seems your parents may have used lead paint for your crib and nursery.


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