NPS Lead Ban
WASHINGTON – National Park Service visitors and wildlife have something to cheer about today with the agency’s stepped-up efforts to reduce lead in national park environments.
“Our goal is to eliminate the use of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle in parks by the end of 2010,” said Acting National Park Service Director Dan Wenk. “We want to take a leadership role in removing lead from the environment.”
The new lead reduction efforts also include changes in NPS activities, such as culling operations or the dispatching of wounded or sick animals. Rangers and resource managers will use non-lead ammunition to prevent environmental contamination as well as lead poisoning of scavenger species who may eventually feed upon the carcass. Non-toxic substitutes for lead made in the United States are now widely available including tungsten, copper, and steel.
The NPS will also develop educational materials to increase awareness about the consequences of lead exposure and the benefits of using lead-free ammunition and fishing tackle.
Lead is an environmental contaminant affecting many areas of the world, including our national parks. Lead is banned in gasoline, children’s toys, and paint because of its effects on human health. In the United States, there is an accelerating trend to expand efforts to reduce lead contamination associated with firearms and hunting. California and Arizona have recently implemented mandatory and voluntary bans, respectively, on lead ammunition to facilitate California condor recovery. And Yellowstone National Park has had restrictions on lead fishing tackle for years to protect native species and their habitats.
Resource managers recognize that hunting and fishing play an important historical role in the complicated and intensive management of wildlife populations. Because of this history, these activities continue in some parks and, in some cases, even enhance the park’s primary purpose to preserve natural environments and native species. The new restrictions on lead will ensure environmentally safe practices are implemented to protect park visitors and lands.
Wenk adds, “The reduction and eventual removal of lead on park service lands will benefit humans, wildlife, and ecosystems inside and outside park boundaries and continue our legacy of resource stewardship.”
According to Gene Mueller's article in the Washington Times, some folks are upset with this decision which many feel was made without consulting the sport fishing industry or providing science to support the ban.
What bothers the sportfishing group and various shooting organizations is the quiet way the park service went about the lead ban. Normally, user groups might have been notified about such changes and would have been invited to discuss the plans, which can affect so many Americans.
"The NPS policy announcement does not explain how this decision was reached, why it may be necessary or how this rule will be implemented," Robertson said. "To our knowledge, there has been no proposed rule, nor any opportunity for public comment. We request that the NPS withdraw this proposal and discuss the rationale for it with the appropriate stakeholders before taking further action."
What do you think about the lead ban? Does the Park Service's plan sink or float? Weigh in via the comments.
**UPDATE - Our friends from the always spot on Trout Underground, report that the National Park Service has clarified their statement, now saying that the lead ban "applies only to employees and agents." Thanks Tom!