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June 27, 2014

What Oregon Hunters Should Know About Traditional Ammunition

Using Traditional Ammunition Does Not Adversely Impact Wildlife Populations;
a Ban Would Reduce Funding for Conservation

This month 4,200 out of a quarter million Oregon hunters will be invited to take a survey about traditional ammunition containing lead components. It is clear the survey is a first step by the state in pursuing restrictions or a total ban on the use of traditional ammunition for hunting.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, urges Oregon hunters, whether they are selected to take the survey or not, to be armed with facts about traditional ammunition given there is so much misinformation on the topic in circulation.

The survey is a joint project of Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Fish and Game. Hunters not selected to participate in the survey can still weigh in at, and NSSF encourages all Oregon hunters to do so.

NSSF’s Position on Traditional AmmunitionNSSF opposes efforts to ban or restrict the use of traditional ammunition containing lead components for use in hunting or shooting unless there is sound science conclusively establishing that the use of traditional ammunition is causing an adverse impact on a wildlife population, the environment or on the human health of those consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition, and that other reasonable measures, short of restricting or banning the product, cannot be undertaken to adequately address the concern.

Facts about Traditional Ammunition

  • Wildlife management policy is based on managing population impacts, not on preventing isolated instances of harm to specific individual animals in a species.
  • Some falsely claim that using traditional ammunition poses a danger to wildlife, such as raptors or bald eagles. No conclusive evidence exists that shows hunters and target shooters using traditional ammunition have caused a population-level decline for raptors. Rather, raptor populations, including the population of bald eagles, continue to steadily rise. In fact, bald eagles are no longer considered an endangered species. This population increase coincides with the longstanding, widespread use of traditional ammunition by sportsmen across America.
  • In the case of California condors, NSSF believes the State of California needlessly passed a statewide ban on traditional ammunition—to go into effect in 2019—even though the causal connection between high blood lead levels and ingestion of spent ammunition fragments in condors is far from conclusive. Condors can be exposed to lead from other sources (landfills, industrial sites) other than feeding on game entrails that may contain bullet fragments.
  • The excise tax dollars (11 percent) manufacturers pay on the sale of ammunition is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding in the United States, providing more than $315 million for conservation in 2013 alone. Mandating the use of alternative ammunition, which, on average, can cost up to 190 percent more than equivalent traditional ammunition, means fewer hunters would go afield and make ammunition purchases, reducing funding for conservation. Also, hunters should be aware that for about half of the hunting calibers, there are no alternative ammunition options available. A falloff in hunting also would mean fewer purchases of firearms (also taxed at 11 percent) and hunting licenses, further reducing conservation funding.
  • NSSF estimates that a future ban on traditional ammunition would cost Oregon nearly 500 jobs and $92 million in revenue.
  • Some claim that using traditional ammunition poses a health risk to those who consume game taken with such ammunition. A 2008 study of North Dakota hunters conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that those who eat game taken with traditional ammunition do not have higher blood lead levels than the national average.
  • Additionally, the Iowa Department of Public Health, a state agency that has tested the blood lead level of Iowa residents for over 15 years, reports, “IDPH maintains that if lead in venison were a serious health risk, it would likely have surfaced within extensive blood lead testing since 1992 with 500,000 youth under 6 and 25,000 adults having been screened.” Iowa has never had a case of a hunter having elevated lead levels caused by consuming harvested game.
  • Hunters are the “original conservationists” and are concerned about wildlife conservation and habitat preservation. Hunters have used traditional ammunition for more than 100 years. During that time, they have supported policies, such as the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, that have helped populations of game and non-game species rebound to historic high levels through professional wildlife management, which includes hunting with traditional ammunition.
  • A ban on traditional ammunition would be unwarranted given that hunters can voluntarily switch to using alternative ammunition and/or bury the entrails of field-dressed game animals, or remove entrails from the field to reduce exposure.
  • Oregon hunters should be aware that anti-hunting groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity are actively working to ban traditional ammunition. The Humane Society is taking a state-by-state approach to ban traditional ammunition as a “first step” in its playbook to effectively ban all hunting. Hunters should not be misled that the Humane Society finds hunting acceptable so long as alternative ammunition is used. CBD has twice petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban traditional ammunition. EPA denied the petitions, and CBD countered with lawsuits. The Toxic Substance Control Act expressly exempts ammunition from oversight by the EPA.

Oregon does not have a proposal to ban the use of traditional ammunition at this time, but we are concerned about the state’s intentions. At this time, Oregon does not have a population of California condors.

For more information on traditional ammunition, see NSSF’s Fact Sheet.

Also see Economic Impact of Traditional Ammunition Ban.

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