HSUS - leading the attacks on lead ammo

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is at it again. Well, truthfully, they never really stopped. They are just attempting to re-energize their base by attacking hunters and gun owners. The largest animal rights anti-hunting organization in the U.S., and possibly the world, has filed a petition with the Department of the Interior demanding legislation to stop the use of lead-based ammunition on public land. This will impact both hunters and target shooters. Joining the HSUS are other anti-hunting groups including The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council and The Sierra Club. The press release states that five individual sportsmen are included as petitioners.

HSUS clearly views hunters and gun owners as barbarians who should perhaps be using stone age tools of rocks or spears against animals. Never mind that hunters desire is to have the most effective tools and ammunition possible to make a quick clean and humane kill. It's really not about the suffering of animals - it is only about the HSUS and their liberal agenda. It's not about saving anything or stopping suffering. It's all about raising money for HSUS. And they do know how to raise money.

The fifty-page petition spells out the HSUS position and makes many claims against the use of lead. It is clearly part of their overall goal to shut down hunting in the United States. Target shooting on public lands and ranges, is also in their sights. It is clearly an effort to deceive an unsuspecting public which many polls show supports legal sport hunting. The HSUS conveniently ignores that hunters (along with fishermen and trappers) fund wildlife conservation across the United States. It is a user pay funding system that does not rely upon general tax revenue funding while providing wildlife conservation benefits for the general public.

I'll be honest - I've not read the entire 50-page report. My blood pressure just can't stand to read that much HSUS propaganda. Of course honesty, or truth in advertising, never stopped the HSUS from making a claim. Their latest press release is full of plenty of claims. They reference a recent study by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. However, major sportsmen conservation groups, including the US Sportsmen Alliance and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, have pointed out serious flaws in the USF&W Service report.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation points out that no conclusive evidence exists that shows hunters and target shooters using traditional ammunition have caused a decline in the population of raptors. Rather, raptor populations, including the population of bald eagles, continue a steady rise. That's a welcome and positive trend that coincides with the longstanding, widespread use of traditional ammunition by sportsmen. Advocates of banning traditional ammunition also attempt to cite human health risks, but studies have shown that those who consume game taken with traditional ammunition do not have higher blood lead levels than the national average.

In addition to hunting and target shooting, I am an avid trap shooter. I have reloaded shot shells, rifle and handgun ammunition for over forty-years. I consume dove, rabbit, pheasant and venison our family harvests each year using traditional lead ammunition. My annual physical includes a liver scan and lead tests. They remain normal and show no impact. Based on this personal experience, I see no significant human health risk from lead ammunition.

The new attacks on lead ammunition may be something of a ploy by the HSUS to deflect attention from the recent rulings in the case against Ringling Brothers Circus. Feld Entertainment, Inc., operator of the Ringling Brothers Circus, recovered $15.75 million in attorney fees from HSUS and their co-defendants who include Born Free USA/Animal Protection Institute, Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, and the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The US Sportsmen Alliance (USSA) reported that during the course of the lawsuit, evidence was uncovered that some of the groups, were secretly paying a plaintiff's living expenses and had submitted false information regarding those payments. In response, Feld Entertainment sued HSUS and the other groups under federal anti-racketeering laws known as the RICO Act.

“Sportsmen, farmers, ranchers, and other animal owners have long understood just how far these groups will go to pursue their extremist agenda,” said Nick Pinizzotto, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance president and CEO. “Hopefully this settlement will help to rein in their underhanded ways. We’re happy to see the court dismiss this case and send a message that these sorts of tactics are not acceptable.”

Of course this is a temporary reversal for the HSUS. Their tactics of misrepresenting facts continues to be reflected in both their petition filing and press releases. For me, their worst claim is that the petition is supported by sportsmen across the United States. I just can't imagine knowledgeable sportsmen getting in bed, so to speak, with the HSUS. The HSUS is anti-hunting and anti-gun through and through. Their only interest in sportsmen is to eliminate our activities and way of life. Believing anything else is would require some kind of fancy rose-colored glasses and a serious case of denial.

Ammunition manufacturers will need to make bullets that have ballistics equivalent to lead ammunition. Stopping power is a prime consideration both for hunting and self-defense use. Finally, ammunition needs to be competitively priced and reasonably affordable. Conventional ammunition is both scarce and costly enough. The transition to non-toxic shot shells for waterfowl hunters took several years for technology in both the ammunition and shotguns to effectively catch up. There may be factors in rifle performance, such as barrel lengths and rate of twist, that may complicate the challenge.

Pursuit of lead-free ammunition should come from within the sportsmen community in partnership with firearms and ammunition manufacturers. It most certainly should not be an arbitrary decision by government bureaucrats or influenced by those who oppose all hunting.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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