Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Firearms Industry Rejects National Park Service Classification of Traditional Ammunition as a Health Threat; Offers to Work with

August 10, 2009, 3:01 pm

In response to an announcement today regarding a National Parks Service program encouraging hunters to voluntarily switch to alternative ammunition, the National Shooting Sports Foundation rejected NPS's categorization of traditional ammunition as a health threat. NSSF is offering to work with the National Park Service to develop measures to educate hunters about steps they can take to prevent scavengers from ingesting lead fragments of spent traditional ammunition. The park service is proposing to ban, at a minimum, the use of lead bullets, shot and sinkers in the park system by NPS personnel.

While no scientific evidence supports restricting the use of traditional ammunition containing lead components, the firearms industry believes that establishing voluntary measures is a more reasoned step than banning traditional ammunition, a drastic policy decision unsupported by science. NPS has raised concerns that lead bullet fragments found in game meat could cause lead poisoning in humans, a charge not borne out in scientific studies, including a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

"While we're not opposed to voluntary measures, we maintain there is no need for them," said Steve Sanetti, president of NSSF, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. "The firearms industry supports science-based decisions about wildlife management. Under current regulations, there is no scientific evidence showing that the health of wildlife populations and humans is at risk from the use of traditional ammunition."

In a press release, Grand Teton National Park and National Elk Refuge officials encouraged hunters to voluntarily switch to alternative ammunition during the 2009 elk and bison seasons. The voluntary measures are being advocated even though the manager of the elk refuge has told NSSF there have been no population impacts on ravens and eagles connected with the use of traditional ammunition.

NSSF says that educational messages can help inform hunters about options related to voluntary measures, such as how to choose alternative ammunition and how burying game entrails can reduce the chance of scavenger birds ingesting fragments from spent bullets in game carcasses. "Hunters were the first conservationists and are second to none in their support of and concern for wildlife," said Sanetti. "Surveys have shown that hunters are agreeable to taking voluntary measures, and our educational efforts in California to promote the burying of entrails was successful. We would like to work with NPS on this."