Let’s start with a fact on which both sides in the ongoing debate about traditional lead ammunition can agree. The American bald eagle population is soaring – and not just metaphorically.
The removal of bald eagles from the federal list of threatened and Endangered Species list in 2007 is one of the nation’s great conservation success stories. State-by-state success stories abound and are easy to find. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, both states with large numbers of hunters, provide just two recent examples where the stories are dramatic.
All the time that the bald eagle has been making its dramatic and welcome comeback, American hunters have been afield by the many millions. Clearly, hunters are not a threat to the eagle population. Let’s not forget that the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition has dependably funded state conservation efforts that helped restore bald eagles. As our national symbol, however, the bald eagle holds a special place in our emotions and the organizations that want to impose bans on the use of traditional lead ammunition know this.
These groups, led by the thoroughly disreputable Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), could advocate for the adoption of voluntary non-traditional ammunition programs, such as the one under way in Arizona with great success . In so doing, a truly viable market for the now limited supply of this more expensive ammunition would be developed and sustained. After all, that’s how free markets work.
But that’s not what the current HSUS petition effort to the Department of the Interior is seeking. It is, ultimately, about bringing an end to hunting in America. They are moving state by state and tackling federal lands as a separate attack. You will be hearing more about traditional ammunition and related issues in posts to come. Stay tuned.