On 18 April 2011, Senators Jon Tester (D- MT) and John Thune (R- SD) and Representatives Jeff Miller (R-FL) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced new legislation in both the House and Senate to exempt traditional lead-based ammunition and its components under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which gives EPA the authority to restrict harmful chemical substances or mixtures. The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act (S. 838 and H.R. 1558) calls for lead ammunition and fishing tackle to be exempt from regulation under TSCA, and received bipartisan support from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. Currently, the Center for Biological Diversity is involved in a court case concerning a petition it submitted asking EPA to prohibit the use of traditional lead ammunition under TSCA. EPA rejected the petition on grounds that there was not enough evidence or justification as to why a ban was needed. They acknowledged that a national ban is not the least burdensome approach and pointed out that there are already actions being taken to mitigate the problem. These include an increased number of limitations concerning lead based fishing gear on Federal lands, federal outreach efforts, state based regulations, and a prevalence of non-lead alternatives that are available to sportsmen.
The Wildlife Society strongly supports hunting and fishing, which are a valuable part of our heritage as well as important management tools. In addition, the federal excise tax from ammunition accounts for a large portion of wildlife management and conservation funding. However, the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle can be problematic in some situations, such as when it is taken up by plants or animals, where it can remain for decades, causing a range of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral effects, or when spent ammunition or lost fishing tackle are ingested by reptiles, birds, and mammals, which has a range of negative effects. The Wildlife Society further explores the implications of traditional ammunition and tackle to natural resources in their Position Statement, and Technical Review.