Lead bullets in National Parks OK?

Sen. Barrasso, R-Wyo. opposes ban of lead ammunition in national parks, despite studies showing lead poisoning in wildlife.
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Sen. Barrasso, R-Wyo. opposes ban of lead ammunition in national parks, despite studies showing lead poisoning in wildlife.

Do lead bullets really cause lead poisoning in the wildlife of our national parks? Should they be banned? Two hot issues facing our national parks right now. Heres what Sen. Barrasso and Sen. Enzi had to say about it in a press release issued last month.

Such a ban would “negatively impact hunters, anglers, conservation groups and manufacturers throughout the country.” Barrasso continued: “Hunting and fishing is a way of life in Wyoming. This and other recent restrictions placed on our parks by the Obama administration continue to diminish American traditions and experiences. This ban rejects the stated purpose of our national parks, which is to provide enjoyment and benefit to the public.

Enzi added that there is not enough scientific reasoning to substantiate switching over to non-lead bullets.

Craighead Beringia South, a Kelly-based research group, would beg to differ. They have been conducting studies on ravens and eagles, and found that they have elevated blood lead levels during hunting season. The birds are good blood-lead level indicators as they feed on the gut pile left by hunters.

Out of 500 ravens tested over the past five years, around 50 percent show elevated levels during the season. In eagles it is even more visible, with 85 percent exhibiting high lead levels. According to Bryan Bedrosian, one of the researchers at Craighead Beringia South, 45 percent of the eagles tested had blood-lead levels of 100 micrograms per deciliter, which can cause impairment to the birds survival.

One eagle tested showed a lead-blood level 550 micrograms per deciliter, 50 over what most reports say would kill the bird.

Despite these studies, Barrasso and Enzi stand by their decision. Yet they do add that they support a voluntary switch, but that it should be the hunters or anglers choice. Two of our parks,Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge, have taken sides with the researchers, and are encouraging hunters to make the switch.

Should lead bullets be banned in national parks? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

-Jordan Olmsted