Or­der tar­gets lead in ammo, sinkers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - CELIA STOREY

On the last day of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, out­go­ing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice di­rec­tor Daniel Ashe is­sued Di­rec­tor’s Or­der No. 219, “Use of Non­toxic Am­mu­ni­tion and Fish­ing Tackle.”

The Jan. 19 or­der says, in part, that the ser­vice will col­lab­o­rate with state fish and wildlife agen­cies to “re­quire the use of non­toxic am­mu­ni­tion and fish­ing tackle to the fullest ex­tent prac­ti­ca­ble for all ac­tiv­i­ties on Ser­vice lands, wa­ters and fa­cil­i­ties by Jan­uary 2022, ex­cept as needed for law en­force­ment or health and safety is­sues.”

The or­der also states that use of lead in am­mu­ni­tion and fish­ing tackle presents an on­go­ing risk of lead poi­son­ing to ter­res­trial mi­gra­tory birds and wa­ter­birds.

Does that mean that Arkansans who hunt doves can’t use their lead or lead al­loy am­mu­ni­tion this year? What about fish­er­men? Can they use lead sinkers?

Jeff Crow, di­rec­tor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion, told the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette on Wed­nes­day that the or­der sur­prised wildlife ser­vices in Arkansas and other states. The agency has ques­tions and con­cerns about the or­der, and it has not yet had time to sit down with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice to dig into what it means.

Since 1991, fed­eral law 50 CFR 20.108 “Non­toxic shot zones” has banned the use of lead am­mu­ni­tion in the hunt­ing of wa­ter­fowl and coots. Those re­stric­tions are cred­ited with help­ing to stem dras­tic drops in bird pop­u­la­tions, but ea­gles and other meat-eat­ing birds are still dy­ing of lead poi­son­ing.

“Right now on our fed­eral refuges, lead shot, for ex­am­ple on small game an­i­mals, is not al­lowed. It’s pro­hib­ited and it’s been pro­hib­ited statewide for wa­ter­fowl,” com­mis­sion As­sis­tant Deputy Di­rec­tor Chris Col­cla­sure said.

“The big thing with this new di­rec­tor’s or­der will be how that re­lates to bul­lets for other game an­i­mals and then the fish­ing tackle, lead fish­ing weights.” And for dove hunters.

Un­der the reg­u­la­tions spelled out in the 2016-2017 Arkansas Hunt­ing Guide­book, lead is not banned in fish­ing tackle and am­mu­ni­tion, but lead-in­clu­sive items may not be used in wildlife man­age­ment ar­eas on fed­eral land that re­quire non­toxic am­mu­ni­tion. In fact, lead or lead al­loy ammo is re­quired when hunt­ing with cer­tain hand­guns, ac­cord­ing to the guide­book.

Hunters con­sult that guide­book, and an­glers look to the an­nual Arkansas Fish­ing Guide­book to make sure their ac­tions and gear are le­gal. Both 2017 edi­tions are al­ready in print. As in past years, the only men­tion of lead in the fish­ing book is a warn­ing not to put lead sinkers in the mouth, to wash hands af­ter us­ing them and to call the Arkansas De­part­ment of Health if you sus­pect poi­son­ing.

Crow said that sports­men can rely on the rules spelled out in those books for 2017.

“Ac­cord­ing to the di­rec­tor’s or­der un­der this phase-in, it would be Jan­uary 2022 be­fore it be­came com­pletely in­tact, or im­ple­mented,” Crow said.

“That be­ing said, this is also a new ad­min­is­tra­tion com­ing on, new lead­er­ship in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, and there is a lot of con­cern on the part of the states that we didn’t re­ally feel like we had a whole lot of in­put be­fore this or­der came out. We’re con­cerned about some of the im­pacts on some of our com­mu­ni­ties’ in­dus­tries, in par­tic­u­lar in ru­ral Arkansas.”

“We’ll be work­ing with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice as they im­ple­ment this,” Col­cla­sure added. “That’s part of their plan, to work closely with the state, and we plan to work with them as they look to im­ple­ment this or­der.”

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