Washington, DC — A coalition of parks, wildlife and wilderness groups today urged Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stand behind the goal of the National Park Service ban lead-based ammunition and fishing tackle by 2010, according to a letter released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), one of the signatories. The Park Service is under pressure from the National Rifle Association and allied groups to drop plans for eliminating lead ammunition from the park system.
Hunting is currently permitted within 60 national preserves, recreation areas and other National Park Service (NPS) units. Fishing in widely allowed throughout the national park system.
On March 4, 2009, Acting Director Daniel Wenk sent out an internal directive that the agency would outlaw the use of lead in firearms, fishing and hunting by “December 31, 2010 or sooner” but adverse reaction from gun groups has left some question about whether NPS will stick with its announced goal.
The Park Service has already begun to phase out lead ammunition from its own operations, such as wildlife culls. The controversy is about prohibiting members of the public from using lead shot or bullets in park units.
The basis for a ban is poisoning of wildlife from ingestion of spent lead shot, bullets or sinkers. In addition, dissolved lead can contaminate groundwater. In the U.S., lead shot is already banned nationwide in waterfowl hunting while several countries, including Canada, have total lead ammunition bans.
In the coalition letter sent today, the groups state:
“We applaud the leadership demonstrated by this effort. More importantly, it exhibits a commitment to the overarching mandate imposed upon you by the Organic Act of 1916 to conserve parks unimpaired, so that they are enjoyed by present and future generations. The NPS is obligated to manage every lawful activity within our nation's parks in such a way as to serve that fundamental purpose. We strongly support this effort to achieve a lead-free national park system by the end of 2010.”
Signatory organizations include Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, the Humane Society of the United States, Wildlife Stewards, the Arizona Zoological Society, Desert Protective Council, Wilderness Watch and Delaware Audubon.
“The National Park Service should know that there is a lot of support and appreciation for its lead-free stance,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose group organized the letter. “This lead ban is one of the most important conservation initiatives to come out of the Park Service in the past decade.”