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For Immediate Release, September 20, 2012

Contact:  Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351

Senate Poised to Vote on Bill Outlawing Lead-poisoning Protections for Wildlife

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a controversial bill that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from stepping in to protect hundreds of wildlife species that are killed or poisoned each year by lead hunting ammunition and lead fishing tackle. The provision is part of a bill, S. 3525, sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

“It’s a national disgrace that eagles, condors, loons and other wildlife are needlessly killed every year because of toxic lead that’s left in the wild,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Senator Tester’s bill would ensure that these killings continue even though it’s been shown that these wildlife deaths can be prevented with little to no impact on America’s hunters and anglers.”

Up to 20 million birds die each year from lead poisoning after consuming spent lead shot and bullet fragments left in the wild from hunting. In the United States, 3,000 tons of lead are shot into the environment each year, while another 80,000 tons are released at shooting ranges.

Earlier this year, the Center and more than 100 groups from 35 states petitioned the EPA to regulate toxic lead ammunition to protect public health and prevent the widespread poisoning of wildlife. The petition was filed by groups representing conservationists, birders, hunters, zoologists, scientists, American Indians, wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians. The bill before the Senate would keep the EPA from taking action on lead ammunition and fishing tackle.

“Senator Tester’s bill is meant to appeal to sportsmen, but there’s nothing sporting about using lead ammunition that unintentionally kills so many other animals,” Snape said. “The EPA can finally put an end to this national tragedy, but not if Congress gets in the way.”

Spent lead from hunting and fishing tackle is a widespread killer of bald and golden eagles, trumpeter swans, endangered California condors and more than 75 other species. Nearly 500 scientific papers have documented the dangers to wildlife from lead exposure.

There are many commercially available alternatives to lead rifle bullets, shotgun pellets, fishing weights and lures. More than a dozen manufacturers market hundreds of varieties and calibers of nonlead bullets and shot made of steel, copper and alloys of other metals, with satisfactory to superior ballistics. Nonlead bullets and fishing tackle are readily available in all 50 states. Hunters and anglers in states and areas that have lead restrictions or have already banned lead have made successful transitions to hunting with nontoxic bullets and fishing with nontoxic tackle.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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