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NRA Victory in Battle with Environmental Groups Over Use of Lead Ammunition for Hunting in Arizona Strip

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In a major legal victory, a federal judge ruled recently in favor of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and threw a lawsuit filed by the environmental group, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) out of US District Court in Phoenix, Arizona. The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al.  Safari Club International had joined the case as a “friend of the court” and assisted NRA with its successful efforts.

CBD’s lawsuit, filed on January 27, 2009, alleged that the BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) were illegally mismanaging federal lands in Arizona.  The lawsuit challenged the allowance of off road vehicles, construction of roads, inadequate protection of desert tortoises, and inadequate protection of California condors. Among other things, the suit sought to force BLM to ban the use of lead ammunition for hunting in the Arizona Strip, a rugged area in the northwest corner of the state renowned for great hunting. CBD contended California condors in Arizona and elsewhere were being poisoned from scavenging game that was shot by hunters using lead shot or bullets. But the record plainly shows that California condors were reintroduced to this area of Arizona based on express promises by FWS and other agencies that the “reintroduction” would not impact hunting.

Among other things, the Court ruled that CBD had waived its claims concerning BLM’s failure to assess the alleged impact of lead ammunition on condors because “[i]t did not argue that BLM was required to include the potential effects of lead ammunition in [BLM’s] analysis of environmental impacts.”

Even before today’s ruling, NRA's intervention on behalf of its members in the case had already resulted in several legal victories.  A January 13, 2010 court ruling granting NRA's motion to intervene was recently published in the official Federal Rules Decision Reporter. The Federal Rules Decisions Reporter is a compendium of selected United States District Court rulings that specifically interpret and apply the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure.  Publication of this court ruling is important to hunters and NRA members because it sets legal precedent and confirms that there is "significantly protectable interest" in hunting that can justify intervention by hunter's rights groups like NRA in the increasing number of lawsuits filed by so-called environmental groups against state and federal natural resource, game and land management agencies.

Groups like CBD often file lawsuits alleging improper regulatory action or inaction in managing public lands and natural resources in attempting to advance their anti-hunting agenda. NRA has collected thousands of documents via public records act requests over the last two years on the lead ammunition issue.  Many of these documents raise doubts about the veracity of claims that lead ammunition is poisoning condors. In fact, many documents obtained by NRA indicate that claim is based on faulty and intentionally misleading science.

To see key documents filed in this case, visit http://michellawyers.com/cbdvblm

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