For Immediate Release, September 30, 2011
Contact: Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 986-2600
National Petition to Ban Toxic Lead Ammunition Snags on Procedural Issue
Despite Judge’s Decision, Work Continues To Ban Lead in the Wild, Prevent Millions of Bird Poisonings
WASHINGTON— Efforts to ban lead hunting ammunition to prevent lead poisoning of wildlife hit a procedural roadblock Thursday with a federal judge’s decision to dismiss part of a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s denial of a petition to ban lead ammunition and lead fishing gear. The court ruled it does not have jurisdiction in a 2010 lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Project Gutpile over the EPA’s refusal to regulate toxic lead ammunition because the complaint was not filed within the statute of limitations to challenge the EPA decision. The ruling does not apply to the lead fishing gear portion of the petition.
“We’re disappointed with the result, but this was not a ruling on the merits of our petition to ban lead hunting ammunition,” said Peter Galvin, conservation director of the Center. “We firmly believe the EPA has the authority and obligation to remove poisonous lead from our environment and this ruling does not change that one bit. Lead ammunition’s days are numbered; the question is not if, it’s when.”
The groups filed a single petition in August 2010 requesting that the EPA ban both lead ammunition and lead fishing gear under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The agency split the petition into two requests and denied the lead ammunition portion in August 2010, claiming it lacked the authority to regulate lead ammunition. The agency denied the lead fishing gear request in November 2010. The groups filed suit in November 2010 but the court on Thursday ruled the EPA had properly split the petition in two, and the groups failed to challenge the August denial within 60 days as required by law. The lawsuit will now proceed based just on the claims related to lead fishing gear.
“We are reviewing the ruling carefully and weighing our options,” said Galvin. “Our lawsuit over toxic fishing gear is still active, and one way or another the EPA will have to address lead ammunition soon enough. We will press forward with our campaign to get toxic lead out of the environment to protect wildlife and human health.”
Long-established science on the dangers of lead poisoning in the wild shows that use of toxic lead hunting ammunition and fishing gear frequently poisons and kills millions of birds each year throughout the country, including eagles, swans, cranes, loons and condors. Lead poisoning from spent lead hunting ammunition and lost fishing tackle threatens other wildlife and endangers public health. Nearly 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers confirm lead poisoning of scavengers that eat lead ammunition fragments in carcasses, and of waterfowl that ingest spent lead shot or lost lead fishing sinkers.
“This effort isn’t about stopping hunting or fishing. It’s about stopping the preventable poisoning of millions of birds and other wildlife from lead that’s left behind in the wild,” Galvin said.
There are many commercially available, nontoxic alternatives to lead rifle bullets, shotgun pellets and fishing weights and lures. More than a dozen manufacturers market many varieties and calibers of non-lead, nontoxic bullets and shot made of steel, copper and alloys, with satisfactory to superior ballistics. Nontoxic bullets and non-lead fishing tackle are readily available in all 50 states. Hunters and anglers in states and areas that have restrictions or have already banned lead have made successful transitions to hunting with non-toxic bullets and fishing with non-toxic tackle.
More than 120 organizations in 30 states — representing birders, conservationists, hunters, scientists, veterinarians, American Indians and public employees — have joined the call for a federal ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle to prevent wildlife poisoning and safeguard human health.
For more information, visit the Center’s Get the Lead Out Web page.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.