April 26, 2011

In The Crosshairs: Getting lead out bad idea

For the past few hunting seasons, I've been scuffling with something other than wild animals in the section of coastal A-Zone I hunt.

For the past few hunting seasons, I've been scuffling with something other than wild animals in the section of coastal A-Zone I hunt.

The lead ammunition ban brought on by the Fish and Game Commission in 2007 was aimed at protecting local condors, but it's done more to frustrate hunters than protect wildlife in my area.

By preventing outdoorsmen from using lead bullets, environmentalists think it will reduce the amount of animal remains left in the field with lead material lodged inside them. Condors, which are scavengers, would then be less likely to ingest the harmful metal.

But I see this regulation as nothing more than another attack on hunting.

I've never seen a condor in the section of A-Zone I hunt, even though it's covered by the lead-ban zone.

To top it off, the members of my hunting party don't leave any game in the field after it's been shot, and it's rare for lead bullets or shrapnel to end up in the gut piles we leave on the hillsides.

So assuming we had condors around the property we hunt, how could they ingest lead ammunition?

While the lead ban has done little to protect condors in my area, it's done a lot to pester hunters.

Instead of paying for quality lead ammunition that can efficiently bring down a big-game animal if used correctly, we now have to buy copper ammunition that is less effective and increases the chance of wounding an animal and letting it get away.

Furthermore, copper ammunition, which is often double the cost of lead rounds, adds a lot more expense to a sport that should be for everyone.

As the price of tags, licenses and frivolous regulations swell, so does the cost to hunters.

Sadly, it pushes more people away from a sport that's part of our American heritage.

To make it worse, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being pushed by so-called "environmental" groups to ban lead hunting ammunition and lead fishing tackle.

However, a group of U.S. senators and representatives have recently introduced legislation that would thwart the ban.

By clarifying that the components used in manufacturing shells, cartridges and fishing tackle are exempt from EPA regulations under the Toxic Substance Control Act, sportsmen could continue using traditional ammunition and fishing gear.

Passing S.B. 838/H.R. 1558 will protect hunters and say "no" to another unnecessary regulation that doesn't have appropriate scientific backing.

I've seen firsthand that banning lead ammunition is worse for wildlife and nothing more than a way for anti-hunters to continue their push to stop a sport that promotes health, self-sufficiency and companionship.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsun-star.com.

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