Hunters ask for protection from enviros

 

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives plans to consider the "Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012," a package of bills intended to benefit hunters and anglers. The bill seeks to open additional federal land for hunting, allows polar bear trophies to be imported from Canada, and removes the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate lead in ammunition.

The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, a pro-hunting lobby, asked foundation supporters, "Help us overcome the obstacles facing sportsmen and women and further the sporting tradition so that it can be handed down for generations to come." The CSF is characterizing the omnibus bill as "essential to recognizing the importance of, and facilitating the expansion and enhancement of, hunting and recreational fishing and shooting."

A skeptical glance, however, reveals that America's sportsmen and women are not nearly as persecuted as some – particularly the more entitled and paranoid among them – would love to think they are. For one, there is the worry that nefarious enviros seek to increase the price of ammunition to the point that Second Amendment rights are imperiled. "Just as environmentalists seek to drive down the use of fossil fuels by making them too expensive, a similar strategy could render guns unaffordable," said The Washington Times, referring to efforts to get hunters to switch to non-lead-based ammunition.

(Granted, non-lead ammunition is generally more expensive. Hunters who always opt for the least expensive ammunition will especially notice a difference. Those, however, who routinely opt for high-end ammo find the difference negligible.)

The Center for Biological Diversity, representing a host of environmental organizations, recently re-petitioned the EPA to ban lead-based ammunitions. The agency has said it has no intention of taking on this issue, despite wide-spread scientific consensus among agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service that lead shot poisons wildlife. Lead fragments routinely appear in processed game meat as well, and recent studies have shown that hunters have higher lead concentrations in their blood than the rest of the population.

The EPA has rejected petitions to ban lead ammunitions before. However the "Heritage Act" would permanently take away their ability to lead ammo by removing hunting and fishing equipment from the agency's purview for this and all future administrations.

Lawrence G. Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president put out an impassioned statement to supporters. "Hunters and their ammunition have done more for wildlife than the CBD ever will," said Keane, referring to an 11 percent federal excise tax paid by ammunition manufacturers to fund the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, run by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. "These relentless and unfounded attacks against traditional ammunition by agenda-driven groups like the CBD," Keane said, "are exactly why Congress must take immediate action and pass the Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012."

If the Act passes, hunters will be able to shoot those newly-protected lead bullets over a far wider range of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. The act directs an "open unless closed" policy for recreational shooting on USFS and BLM lands, removing restrictions from many areas. And, in a reversal of the BLM's former policy, target practice would now be allowed on BLM National Monument lands.

The final tweak would legalize imports of trophy polar bears from Canada shot prior to the species' listing as an endangered species in 2008 (currently, importation is forbidden under the Marine Mammal Protection Act). The "Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act" would allow U.S. hunters to bring home 41 trophy bears – still in Canada – that were shot while the Endangered Species Act listing was pending.

"These individuals knowingly assumed the risk that their trophies might not be approved for importation," wrote Elisabeth Torres in Global Animal, an animal-focused news organization. "Allowing them to import those trophies now would constitute an unfair bailout."

"Fairness" in the House today is a relative term. With the GOP leadership consistently pushing for goodies for their constituents, what is considered fair for one, is not considered fair by all.

Danielle Venton is an intern at High Country News.

Photo of hunter and daughter waiting for a deer before sunset, near San Antonio, Texas, 1973; courtesy of EPA/Documerica/Flickr.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Come work alongside everyday Montanans to project our clean air, water, and build thriving communities! Competitive salary, health insurance, pension, generous vacation time and sabbatical....
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
    Honor the Earth is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on identity. Indigenous people, people of color, Two-Spirit or LGBTQA+ people,...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Colorado Trout Unlimited seeks an individual with successful development experience, strong interpersonal skills, and a deep commitment to coldwater conservation to serve as the organization's...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Now hiring a full-time, remote Program Director for the Society for Wilderness Stewardship! Come help us promote excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...