|WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, rejects the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Final Rule that bans the use of traditional lead ammunition on eight National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) and fishing tackle on seven NWRs in exchange for opening hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands. The announcement banning the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle is devoid of any scientific evidence that traditional ammunition causes detrimental population impacts. These efforts only appease anti-hunting special interest groups and are harmful to the long-term conservation gains subsidized by Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by the firearm and ammunition industry.
USFWS announced 48 new distinct hunting opportunities across approximately 3,000 acres of NWRs, in a Proposed Rule in June. NSSF condemned the proposal then and urged USFWS to reconsider. This is another illustration of the Biden administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI) and USFWS kowtowing to anti-hunting activists by promulgating policies that lack sound scientific data.
“This administration claimed it would follow the science, yet at every turn they have outright ignored it to appease anti-hunting activists,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “These policies are detrimental to hunters and anglers as they unnecessarily create price barriers to participation. We have pleaded with USFWS to follow the science as they promised, yet they are not acting in the best interest of the public or evidence-based wildlife conservation. The need for Congress to pass the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act has never been more urgent.”
Requiring the use of alternative ammunition would put a significant cost barrier to participation in hunting and fishing on lands. Alternative ammunition is, on average, 25 percent more expensive than traditional lead ammunition and less available. That barrier would “price out” many hunters and anglers and decrease the excise tax funding paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers they support. NSSF believes hunters should be free to decide to use traditional or alternative ammunition that best suits their needs when the scientific evidence does not support restrictions.
The USFWS announced three NWRs are proposing to expand opportunities for hunting. These refuges are Cahaba River NWR in Alabama, Everglades Headwaters NWR in Florida and Minnesota Valley NWR in Minnesota. The proposed rule, appearing in the Federal Register, includes proposals to phase out lead ammunition and tackle at eight NWRs. The Final Rule is to be posted in days.
NSSF urges Congress to quickly pass U.S. Rep. Robert Wittman’s (R-Va.) Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act, H.R. 615, which would ensure America’s number one resource of conservation funding remains in place and that hunters, recreational shooters and anglers throughout the nation can continue to enjoy America’s sporting heritage. Excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers have contributed over $16 billion since 1937, or $25 billion when adjusted for inflation, for wildlife and habitat conservation. It is the leading funding source for wildlife restoration. Over $1.6 billion was apportioned to the states for wildlife conservation projects last year, with $1.19 billion of that sourced to excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers. The bill passed the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan vote earlier this year.
Rep. Wittman’s legislation, along with U.S. Sen. Steve Daines’s (R-Mont.) companion legislation S. 1185 of the same name, would require the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to provide site-specific peer-reviewed scientific data in cooperation with state agencies that demonstrates traditional lead ammunition or fishing tackle is causing detrimental wildlife population impacts before prohibiting their use by hunters and anglers.
The Final Rule published last year to similarly ban traditional ammunition and fishing tackle while opening hunting and fishing opportunities was part of a “sue and settle” litigation between the Center for Biological Diversity and the USFWS and was implemented without scientific evidence or consultation of state agencies.
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org.