Hunting, Conservation Groups Ask U.S. Fish and Wildlife to Reject Lead Ammo Restrictions on Federal Land

by Quentin Blount
Photo credit should read GAIZKA IROZ/AFP via Getty Images

Do any of you Outsiders enjoy hunting on federal land? If so, this story is for you.

Hunting and conservations organizations in the United States are concerned folks. Why you ask? Well, because there’s a chance that hunting and fishing opportunities on federal land could soon be reduced. A group of 41 organizations combined to send a letter to the current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) director, Martha Williams. They want the department to reject any settlement of pending litigation that could limit hunting and fishing at National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks.

Remember back in 2020 when hunting and fishing on national wildlife refuges was expanded by more than 2.3 million acres? That’s exactly what the Center of Biological Diversity’s (CBD) lawsuit is in response to. They say that the USFWS violated not only the Endangered Species Act, but also the National Environmental Policy Act. They claim that the additional hunting and fishing on federal land poses a threat to endangered species. This is due to possible lead poisoning from ammunition and tackle.

Meanwhile, it all stems back to a January 2017 order from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director at the time, Dan Ashe, that bans lead ammo and tackle on refuges and in national parks. The order was right near the end of the Obama administration. However, it was quickly reversed by Trump and his team.

A member of one of the hunting groups that signed the letter says they have a lot of concerns.

“We are concerned that the FWP, Interior, and the administration have entered settlement talks with CBD as a kind of sue-and-settle strategy. Should we have that concern? Who initiated these settlement talks? And why haven’t hunting interests been involved in negotiations?”

Hunting Groups ‘Strongly Object’ to Any Settlement

Let’s talk about one of the major points that hunting groups detailed in the recent letter. It had to do with the USFWS’s record funding. They announced a record $1.5 billion in funding for wildlife and habitat conservation. But most of that funding comes from excise taxes on hunting, shooting, and fishing equipment.

“In announcing this historic revenue, the Service confirmed that hunting and fishing are consistent with the President’s ‘America the Beautiful’ initiative. In sum, any settlement which closes access for hunting and fishing on refuge lands is wholly inconsistent with the traditional and the current role that hunting and fishing play in the refuge system.”

“The undersigned organizations strongly object to any settlement that would close hunting or fishing or ban the use of traditional ammunition or fishing tackle. It is especially concerning that the Service might consider closing refuges without any input from the hunting conservation community or state wildlife agencies.”

Stay tuned right here on Outsider for all of the latest hunting and fishing news.