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The use of lead bullets for waterfowl hunting on federal wetlands was banned by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the year 1991. Lead bullets were also banned on lands within the range of Californian condors in the year 2008. On January 19, 2017, the Obama administration extended the 1991 ban to account for all hunting on all federal wildlife refuges, national parks and lands.

The problem isn’t with the lead bullet itself. It occurs when hunters clean the animal and leave its remains, including the expended lead bullet, on the field. The problem occurs when a shot animal escapes the hunter and dies later. Birds and scavengers then feed on these remains, and often end up eating parts of the lead bullets. Once ingested, the lead hinders their ability to fly, causes starvation and blindness and also leads to seizures and death.

In a complete turn of events, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rescinded the order as one of his first acts after taking office. Jamie Rappaport Clarke, the CEO of Defenders of Wildlife states that the use of lead ammunition in an age when alternate measures such as lead free ammunition and frangible projectiles are readily available is unacceptable. “We know the incredible harm that lead poses to people and to wildlife,” says Clarke.

Secretary Zinke argues that the law was a step banning hunting on public lands. “It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite,” says Zinke.

Whether or not hunting and fishing are becoming activities for the elite, we do know that the lead bullets that are used by hunters to hunt deer can find its way into venison. So can anyone guess what’s going to be served on dinner plates soon?

It’s never too late though. Some might believe that rescinding the ban was the right thing to do, but common sense dictates that we get rid of lead as soon as possible. With alternatives such as frangible projectiles and lead free ammunition readily available, it seems unimaginable that hunters would make their families and their beloved hunting environment go through the dangers that lead poses.

Activities like hunting and fishing hold a special place in America’s heart, and it is our responsibility to make sure that they’re available for future generations to come. And while the environment around us is already suffering from the dangers of lead poisoning, it still isn’t too late, provided we act now as a society and do something about this issue that affects our children and their future once and for all.

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