Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

New petition seeks to regulate lead in hunting ammunition

A golden eagle.
A golden eagle.
Marc P Jones/Flickr

A wide-ranging band of environmental groups have come together to formally request that the Environmental Protection Agency consider banning or limiting the use of lead in hunting ammo. As reported by the New York Times, the coalition argues that lead poisoning is contaminating both wildlife and humans who consume animals killed with lead bullets and buckshot.

"The EPA has taken steps to address toxic lead in almost every available product from gasoline to plumbing to toys," said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity to the Huffington Post. "The one source of lead that is still causing significant lead exposure is hunting ammunition and fishing tackle."

While a similar petition was denied in 2010, Miller believes that this larger and more diverse coalition of groups (which now includes hunting organizations) and more extensive research showing the link between toxic levels of lead in hunting ammo and “significant” poisoning of birds like condors and eagles around the country.

Opponents of the petition say that switching from lead is cost-prohibitive, with any switch resulting in skyrocketing prices on ammo. Other critics, like Lawrence Keane of the National Sports Foundation, refute the coalition’s statistics.

“There’s no sound science that show lead ammunition having an impact on wildlife population,” he said to Fox News. “Regulating ammunition for hunting is simply not in the EPA’s sandbox.”

In 2007, California did pass a ban on the use of lead ammo in the California condor's habitat. There is a study underway to determine the impact.