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Big Condor Trouble Brewing for Hunters in Oregon: Join the Hunt for the Truth About Lead Ammunition and Hunting

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Oregonian newspaper recently published a series of articles about California condors and the use of lead ammunition for hunting.  It also conducted a poll about whether to ban lead ammunition altogether.  The California Condor Recovery Program, of which the Oregon Zoo is a program partner, wants to establish a condor population covering portions of northern California and Southern Oregon.  But it has made it clear that the use of lead ammunition for hunting must first be banned.  Hence the media campaign, the straw poll by the Oregonian and now big trouble on the horizon for Oregon hunters if condors are let in to the state.

The author of the Oregonian articles supports the reintroduction of California condors into Oregon and banning lead ammunition use by hunters.  She no doubt expected this poll to show that Oregon public opinion supports a lead ammunition ban.  Apparently she did not realize that support for traditional hunting is strong nationwide, so she was not pleased when the results of the poll showed 72% against this proposed ban.  She wrote a final article about the results of her poll and took the opportunity to denigrate those who voted against a proposed lead ammunition ban.

But she never considered why an overwhelming majority rejected this proposal -- and her agenda.

The anti-lead ammunition advocates want to ban the use of lead ammunition both at shooting ranges and in the field, and many want to ban all hunting.  One of the primary sponsors of the statewide lead ammunition ban in California has been very candid about this agenda: “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States.  We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California.  Then we will take it state by state.” (Humane Society of the United States President and CEO Wayne Pacelle).

The NRA is asking all Oregon hunters, recreational shooters and gun owners to oppose any attempt to ban lead ammunition.  Please monitor the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and ODFW Commission meetings, and oppose a lead-ammo ban and any other anti-hunting proposals.  Make it very clear that you oppose any attempt to ban lead ammunition for any hunting.

Please forward this alert to your family, friends, fellow hunters, conservationists and gun owners throughout Oregon.

Heed the Lessons from California

In 2007, the first hastily-enacted ban on lead ammunition (Assembly Bill [AB] 821) used for game hunting was passed in California.  It banned the use of lead ammunition for hunting big game in the California condor habitat (a.k.a. the “condor zone”).  Despite the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s acknowledgment that 99% of hunters were complying with the lead ammunition ban in the “condor zone” since this law took effect in 2007, the levels of condor blood-lead, poisoning and mortality actually increased!  This failure to reduce condor blood-lead levels, poisoning and mortality suggests that hunters’ lead ammunition was and is not the source of lead poisoning the condors.  In addition, voluntary nontraditional ammunition programs in condor areas that provide free nontraditional ammunition, such as the programs in Arizona and Utah, are preferable to a misguided and deeply flawed complete lead ammunition ban which could prove devastating for conservation because many hunters wouldn’t be able to afford the ammunition.

Nevertheless, these groups used faulty science, scare tactics and political demagoguery to claim that lead ammunition from hunting was a threat to the California condor and the ban on its use needed to be expanded.  And when they realized that these tactics were not getting enough political traction, they expanded their claims to assert that using lead ammunition for hunting creates a significant threat to human health as well.  That is simply not true!

Regardless, California politicians enacted AB 711 in 2013 expanding the AB 821 lead ammo ban statewide.  Under AB 711 the lead ammunition ban will apply to all hunting throughout California by no later than 2019.  Lead ammunition ban proponents now cite the new, as yet untested, California law to support the expansion of their campaign into other states, like Oregon, claiming that enactment of this California law is evidence for the need to ban lead ammunition throughout the nation.


The Real Science as Compared to Political Science

Proponents of lead ammunition bans claim that scavenging animals, including the California condor, ingest and are poisoned by small pieces of metallic lead bullets present in the gut piles of field dressed game.  They want the general public to believe that the science is “well settled” regarding the alleged toxic effects of lead ammunition.  But history and real life experience tell a different story.

Lead ammunition ban proponents claim there is “safe” alternative ammunition (non-lead) available.  But the truth is that ammunition made with alternative metals such as bismuth are not the safest.  Advocates of lead ammunition bans routinely ignore the serious environmental consequences from bismuth, tungsten and other metals used in alternative ammunition.  Alternative ammunition containing bismuth, tungsten or copper coated steel all present environmental concerns.  Bismuth leaches into the soil and groundwater and interferes with soil bacteria.  Tungsten, which is transformed to a soluble form by oxygen, accumulates in the spleen of wildlife and can cause immune system disorders.  Steel shot does not perform as well as lead on game, leading to higher numbers of crippled game left to bleed-out and die in the field.  Even copper can be toxic under certain circumstances.  Consequently, traditional ammunition containing lead is still the best and most economical ammunition available.


Hunters Are the True Environmentalists

Contrary to the disparaging claims made against hunters by the lead ammunition ban groups, sportsmen are the true conservationists.  Hunters pay fees and taxes at both the state and federal level.  On the state level, hunters pay for license fees and game tags.  This money is used by the state fish and wildlife agencies to fund their administration, programs and projects.  State agencies also receive federal funds through excise taxes on firearms and ammunition which is distributed pursuant to the Pittman-Robertson Act.  Also, federal agencies receive revenue from the sale of Duck Stamps required for waterfowl hunting.  This funding goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to help fund land acquisitions for the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Additionally, both the USFWS and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) can charge hunters a fee for hunting on wildlife refuge and national forest lands.  This revenue almost entirely covers the costs of administering hunting programs administered by the USFWS and USFS.

In addition to funding conservation, in the field, hunters help Fish and Wildlife Departments with wildlife counts, suggest enhancements for better game management and conservation measures, and assist with monitoring and apprehending poachers and others harming the environment.

Do not be misled by anti-hunting activists pushing their extremist agendas against lead ammunition and hunting.  Learn the real facts and truth behind the all-out assault on lead ammunition throughout the United States at

To stay up to date on the lead ammunition and hunting debate, visit NRA-ILA and subscribe to  Join the hunt for the truth regarding lead ammunition and hunting, as we expose the misinformation being spread by anti-lead ammunition groups and animal “rights” activists in their campaign to ban lead ammunition and hunting.


Oregon lead ammunition


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