Getting the lead out of hunting in Arizona

By Barbara Baird writes Realtree Outdoor News

This headline caught my attention: Environmentalists sue to block lead ammo they say threatens condors. 

In an article at Cronkite News, Cale Ottens writes, “Conservation groups have sued the U.S. Forest Service to get a ban on lead ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest, where they say spent ammo is the leading cause of death for endangered condors.” Kaibab National Forest is located in Arizona. On Sept. 5, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service to ban lead ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest. 

Hunters can ‘get the lead out,’ for free in Arizona 

Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and GameA condor program coordinator for Arizona Game and Fish, Kathy Sullivan, said there was a problem with lead poisonings, but that she felt banning lead ammo might not be the best practice for saving the birds. In the article, she said, “People don’t like to be forced to do something. They like to be asked to be a part of the solution.” The AZGFD offers a volunteer program that educates hunters on the harm from lead and also offers non-lead ammo for free. She said if the ban goes through, the AZGFD would probably not offer free non-lead ammo any longer. She said, “I’m pretty sure the department wouldn’t see the point.” Non-lead ammo is more expensive and more difficult to find on store shelves.

Here’s an interesting side note from the original article: “Sullivan noted that California banned lead-ammunition in a large portion of the southern part of the state in 2008, but she said there has not been any significant decrease in condor deaths since then.”

The wildlife groups that brought suit believe it is the government’s obligation to remove toxins from federal lands.

The argument here is not whether lead ammo harms birds. There are studies on both sides of the argument.

The question is whether to make this mandatory or voluntary. The state seems to be saying “voluntary,” while the anti-hunters are saying “mandatory.”

What do you say?