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Tuesday, 07 March 2017 06:11

Trump Administration Reopens Federal Lands to Toxic Lead Bullets

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8294945718 e35215c93f z (Photo: joshlopezphoto)

In a partial list of Obama administration regulations that have been reversed by Congress or Trump, The New York Times notes:

Nor will hunters be banned from using lead-based bullets, which can ... poison wildlife, on 150 million acres of federal lands.

These are just a few of the more than 90 regulations that federal agencies and the Republican-controlled Congress have delayed, suspended or reversed in the month and a half since President Trump took office, according to a tally by The New York Times.

The Obama administration's ban on the use of lead bullets on federal lands was repealed on March 2 by newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on his first day in office. EcoWatch reports on advocates' highly critical reaction to Zinke's order:

"Switching to nontoxic ammunition should be a no-brainer to save the lives of thousands birds and other wildlife, prevent hunters and their families from being exposed to toxic lead and protect our water," said Jonathan Evans, the Center for Biological Diversity's environmental health legal director.

"It's ironic that one of the first actions by Secretary Zinke, who fancies himself a champion of hunters and anglers, leads to poisoning of game and waterfowl eaten by those same hunting families," said Evans. "It's another sad day for public health and wildlife under the Trump presidency when special interests again prevail over common-sense environmental safeguards."

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that "as many as 20 million birds and other animals die each year from subsequent lead poisoning."

Note that lead bullets are not only a danger to animal life; through exposure and the eating of game that is hunted, it is a danger to hunters and their families. According to many pediatric experts, there is no safe dosage of lead for children. Furthermore, it's hunters themselves who are most in contact with lead dust and lead detritus.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC), a gun injury and death reduction think tank, wrote of the poisonous impact of exposure to lead:

Lead is a highly potent toxic element that attacks many different body organs and systems, including the blood-forming, nervous, urinary, and reproductive systems.7 It is especially dangerous to fetuses and young children. Unlike other metals such as zinc or iron, lead has no known useful function in the body. Lead taken in large enough doses can cause brain damage—leading to seizures, coma, and death in a matter of days. Although the good news is that such short-term, extreme overdoses are rare, the bad news is that chronic overexposure to lower levels of lead simply causes these and other serious health impairments to develop over a longer period of time. 

Human beings can be exposed to lead from breathing air, drinking water, eating food, or ingesting dust or soil that contains lead dust or particles of lead. The effects of lead are the same no matter how it gets into the body.

The VPC report also noted the deadly impact on wildlife, providing this example:

Lead has devastating effects on wildlife that mistake lead shotgun pellets for food or grit and ingest it. Ducks and geese, for example, "deliberately swallow small bits of stone and gravel to help grind up food in their gizzards." When this grit contains lead, the result is lead poisoning and a slow and agonizing death. "You see them walking with drooping wings and they can't fly," an Illinois veterinarian said recently. "It really is a terrible death because it's very slow and gradual."

It should come as no surprise that the rescinding of the ban on lead bullets was a key goal of the National Rifle Association (NRA). As the Huffington Post reported:

The NRA, which pumped $30 million into Trump's presidential campaign, strongly supported Zinke's repeal of the lead ammunition ban. Despite mounting scientific evidence, the NRA claims there's no proof that lead ammunition causes great harm to wildlife and humans.

The NRA infused the Trump campaign with millions of dollars. In return, we get federal lands polluted with lead.