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December 29, 2008

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Discussion Topic: Is Utah Next In Lead-Ban Line?

From an AP story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Conservationists who have battled for years to eliminate lead ammunition they say is the biggest threat to the survival of endangered California condors are now setting their sights on Utah. . . .

"It's a simple fix to just ban lead-based ammunition," said Jay Lininger, an ecologist for the group in Flagstaff. "It would be far less expensive and less of a headache for everyone if widely available alternatives were simply required. . . .”

Chris Parish, who oversees the release of the condors in Arizona for the Peregrine Fund, said a widespread ban on lead ammunition could be helpful but fears it might just anger hunters.

"Even if it were banned nationwide right now, there would still be people out there who do not believe in it and they're not convinced their bullets are doing the damage," he said.

Are you convinced?



It doesn't matter whether you, I or anyone who shoots is convinced of the potential problems lead may/may not cause. Lead has been banned in many applications over the year and bullets are next.

The 2009 SHOT show is supposed to feature quite a few, new, lead free ammo lines.

I've read that many see lead bans for ammo as soon as 2012. Will it happen that soon? I wouldn't bet against it and I can't imagine the cost per round. Yikes.....



No, not convinced, though birds do seem to be more susceptible to toxins than mammals. Will be interesting to see any effects from the lead ban in California.

Makes me wonder what the lead level is in other clean up artists such as crows, ravens, and ants, and predators such as coyotes and bobcats.

Mc. Squizzy

well what are they going to be made of? steel- that will screw up the barrels. copper- that's a waste of a resource we need for wires and things like that!

I think they should ban lead ammo only in the places they need to so that some still use the lead and not copper or bronze or steel, but in those areas with the things that need it banned it will be banned.

Mc. Squizzy

well what are they going to be made of? steel- that will screw up the barrels. copper- that's a waste of a resource we need for wires and things like that!

I think they should ban lead ammo only in the places they need to so that some still use the lead and not copper or bronze or steel, but in those areas with the things that need it banned it will be banned.


Is Barnes bullets based in Utah?


Has anyone besides me noticed that on all of our huntin equipment that contains lead they say :known to be toxic in the state


Interesting stuff, and not a pretty picture for hunters and shooting sports afficianados.

The idea that non-lead ammo is a "simple fix" is absolute BS and folks need to challenge it at every opportunity. Yes, there are some non-lead alternatives. But they are neither widely available, nor are they as affordable as lead ammo... and the price difference is on the lines of double or triple the price, not "just a few dollars per box". I'll add that non-lead alternatives for most rimfire ammunition, as of right now, simply don't exist at all. While I'm also hopeful to see something new at the SHOT Show, right now the only non-lead rimfire ammo on the market is for .22wmr from CCI. There is nothing at all for .22lr, .17hmr, .17mach2, or 5mm Rem.

However, I can almost guarantee that a lead ammo ban is coming down the pike. My suggestion, as it has been all along, is for sportsmen to get in front of this train now and start pushing for reasonable and realistic options, such as "lead-safe" ammo for big game like bonded bullets that leave little or no lead residue. Also, based on testing performed in Minnesota, the ban on lead shotgun slugs and muzzleloader bullets is also not completely necessary.

If Utah can implement a voucher system and voluntary compliance, like the program in Arizona, that may be a good step in the right direction. There are constructive ways to achieve the stated goal of protecting the condors without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

California's blanket ban in a huge section of the state is legislative overkill, and largely unenforceable. It's created a morass for law enforcement, already seriously understaffed (less than 200 wardens for this entire state!), not to mention the absolute pain in the neck it's been for hunters. The only reason compliance has been as high as it has, so far, is because sportsmen are willing to try to do the right thing when they can... well that, and the fact that the checkpoints were announced, and covered a pretty small area of the designated ban zone.


Hello All.

My brother and I just recently went out looking at shoot shell prices. I use a 16 and my brother uses a 20. The price for the 16 in Heavy Shot/Nitro Steel for 6 round is $30.00 from one brand and for another 25 rounds is $36.00 and about the same for the 20. The same loads in lead are $15 for the 16's and $10 for 20's.
Switching to a non-lead shoot shell is a good way to move, it is just not economical at this point to do so.
And there is the gotcha, the anti hunting, anti gun people know this and are using the Ban Lead banner to out price the middle class hunter and say well you cannot aford the ammo then way do you need the gun!


I'd be perfectly willing to support legislation that banned future lead ammunition production IF that legislation allowed existing stocks to be used and a continued subsidy for the difference in cost either to the manufacturer or consumer was a requirement of the bill in perpetuity. I have no idea how you would guarantee that there wouldn't be shortfalls while the process gets revamped but I think it would help clarify agendas. Assuming these groups truly just want lead out of ammo, then they should support it as it would remove the primary objections of the hunting and shooting world. However, if they really want ammo out of the woods then they'd have to show their true colors. Any legislators out there reading today?


Personally, as a biologist, I'd like to see the numbers. What percentage of the condor population are we actually losing due to lead poisioning? Animal rights groups yammer and howl all the time about species protection, and dont get me wrong, i'm for conservation, but lets make sure its warranted. Lets see some actual data gathered by professionals before doing something as drastic as banning lead shot.


Duane, just a reality check and point of information.

The numbers ARE out there, and a ton of research HAS been done. There is very little argument from anyone in the scientific community that lead poisoning is doing significant damage to the handful of wild condors.

Of course, the last time I looked at the "numbers", more birds had been killed by powerlines, and by impactions caused by eating garbage than have died from lead poisoning. However, part of that may be due to the fact that lead-poisoned birds are often recaptured and treated, so the actual death rate is not really reflective of the rate of poisoning.

What has NOT been established is the extent that hunters' ammunition has been identified as the source of the lead poisoning. Beyond anecdotal evidence, there is very little hard proof that lead bullets are primary, or even significant sources of the lead. However, I'm willing to grant that it is likely that at least some of the lead in question probably did come from hunters' bullets.

But even two or three birds per year, from a total population of under 200 birds is going to result in problems...especially since the majority of birds in the wild are not breeding naturally.

None of this is news. The debate about whether lead has killed condors has been done.

There is also a body of research on the effects of lead on other scavengers, both mammals and birds. It is showing some correlation between hunting and lead levels, but no distinctly damning evidence has turned up as yet.

It's time for hunters to step up and get proactive, not to keep rehashing the same old arguments that have already been defeated. That's a waste of time and energy, and honestly, it doesn't much support the image of hunters as conservationists.

Instead, why not focus on positive change? First, educate. Start with yourself, then share that knowledge. For example, a lot of folks believe lead ammo can easily be replaced, and that lie is being perpetuated by the folks who are pushing the agenda. We need to expose the lies with facts.

There are two manufacturers of copper bullets, Barnes and Lapua. Barnes bullets are loaded by several manufacturers, including Federal, but they are only available in a limited range of calibers. Lapua is loaded, in the US, only by Remington with (last time I checked) very limited availability and a narrow range of calibers... mostly European.

For big game hunters, the only other real choice is the Winchester/Nosler ETip, which as of my last look is still only available in .30 and .277 calibers (hopefully the SHOT Show will introduce some expanded offerings).

What this means, of course, is that for a large number of hunters who do not handload and who do not shoot the "standard" calibers, there is no non-lead alternative. It's not that hunters are too cheap to spend a "little extra" for the non-lead ammo... it's that there simply is no non-lead ammo for them. The general public doesn't know or understand this... and under the bombardment of misinformation coming out of organizations like CBD and the Peregrine Fund, it's going to be hard to get that message through.

Long term, of course this gap can, and probably will, be closed. As hunters and consumers, we should be putting some pressure on the ammo industry to step up to this challenge. It IS the right thing to do, if it only saves one condor per year.

Another area where we should be pushing is on our outdoor media, such as Field and Stream, to get out ahead of this thing with education and facts. Let's see some honest discussion of the issue, including facts about lead vs. non-lead ammunition performance, cost, availability. Let's prove or dispel some myths regarding non-lead ammo, as well as myths around lead.

I'd also like to see organizations like the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) get behind a REAL education and PR campaign around the lead ammo topic, rather than simply echoing whatever reactionary propaganda the NRA spews out.

Hunters represent ourselves as the "first" conservationists, and often use the ecological benefits of hunting as a defense of our sport. As such, it only makes sense that we should be willing and eager to step up to the challenge of understanding the effects of lead on other creatures in the ecosystem, and mitigating damage where it's realistic and possible.


Well said Phil


To me, this is just another angle from which the anti-hunting/gun crowd from which to attack our sport. It just gets old. You plug the proverbial hole in the dam with your fingers, your toes and your thumbs, and out springs more leaks. Its getting old.

The bottom line, brutally honest truth, let's face it guys, we (as hunters and fisherman, shooters and sportsman, are fighting an uphill losing battle, which has become a battle of attrition. We just no longer have the numbers we need to be a formitable majority; we lose more and more every day. We are a dying breed. Airsoft and Nintendo have replaced shooting and the outdoors.

Sad to say, but I dont look for my one year old daughter to be able to enjoy the sport with her children; barring a lottery win.

They are phasing out hunting from the middle class, and for those of us who are resourceful enough to cast/load our own, they are taking that away as well. I partially place the blame on these bullet companies... $4 a bullet for components? Give me a break.

Brucie Boy

I am a big supporter of protecting condors, they are truly awesome creatures. However, I find it really hard to believe lead poisoning from bullets is a valid threat to their existance. Their breeding habits really work against them: mating once every 18 months, laying only 1 or 2 eggs at a time and abandoning their nests and young at the slightest preceived threat are not conducive to large populations of these magnificent birds. Of course, there is nothing that can be done about that. As far as other birds are concerned, the biggest threat is house cats, but no one talks about banning them.


Phillip's post was very well written. I would like to add that from all I have read on the subject of lead poisoning in Kalifornia Condors, the lead causing the most problem with the Condors was mostly environmental, and not solely from lead bullets.


The first time I ever heard of this issue was at the Sportsman's Expo in Arizona. A biologist and Game Warden were doing a display on this matter. Both were avid hunters. they had X Rays of Condor carcasses that had been recovered that clearly showed consumed lead pellets in the belly. Both these guys supported alternatives to lead in certain parts of the state. Parts of the state that did not have condors were not under consideration for a ban which seemed reasonable. The science is there, but a lot of hunters seem to think it's a grand conspiracy by anti hunters to make things more difficult for all of us. Perhaps anti hunters will use this as an excuse, but the solution is to make sure the ban in enacted only in areas where science shows it is a threat to endangered species. However, let us not dismiss science out of fear.

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