For Immediate Release, July 7, 2014

Contact: Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351

More Than 100 Groups Oppose "Sportsmen's Act" Allowing Lead Poisoning of Wildlife

WASHINGTON— More than 100 conservation, zoological and wildlife rehabilitation groups today are speaking out against a bill in the Senate that includes a provision preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting people and wildlife from deadly lead poisoning. The groups, representing millions of Americans from around the country, signed a letter to senators opposing the so-called “Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014.”

Spent lead from hunting is a widespread killer of more than 75 species of birds, including bald eagles, endangered condors, loons and swans, as well as nearly 50 mammals. Lead also poses a threat to people who consume game that was shot with lead ammunition. The National Rifle Association has tried for years to block any attempt to require the EPA to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The new Senate bill (S. 2363), which includes the pro-lead provision pushed by the NRA, is now up for consideration.

“America’s eagles, swans and other wildlife don’t deserve to die painful deaths and suffer horrific injuries from lead poisoning,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “And yet the Senate is poised to allow these barbaric poisonings to continue.”

The bill, cosponsored by Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), also includes provisions to roll back protections for public lands and make it easier to import hunted polar bear “trophies.”

“We oppose this legislation because it threatens the conservation of fish, wildlife and habitats that benefit all Americans,” says the letter from conservation groups.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calculates that more than 14,000 tons of toxic lead shot is deposited in the environment each year in the United States by upland bird hunting alone. Millions of birds and other animals die from lead poisoning each year, often after ingesting game that has been shot with lead ammunition.

More than 500 scientific papers have documented the dangers to wildlife from lead exposure. Lead ammunition leaves fragments and numerous imperceptible, dust-sized particles that contaminate game meat far from the bullet tracking, causing significant health risks to people eating wild game.

The EPA is currently allowed to regulate or ban any chemical substance for a particular use, including the lead used in shot and bullets. Affordable, effective nontoxic alternatives exist for lead ammunition and lead sinkers for all hunting and fishing activities.

“There are powerful reasons we banned toxic lead from gasoline, plumbing and paint — lead is a known neurotoxin that endangers the health of hunters and their families and painfully kills bald eagles and other wildlife,” said Snape. “There’s no reason to let this absolutely preventable epidemic of lead poisoning to continue.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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