Ban Lead Ammunition and Tackle from National Parks

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Thursday, November 17, 2022
Chandra Rosenthal (303) 898-0798
Jeff Ruch (510) 213-7028 


 Ban Lead Ammunition and Tackle from National Parks

Groups Petition to Protect Wildlife, Human Health and the Environment

Washington, DC — The National Park Service (NPS) would no longer allow the use or sale of lead-based ammunition or fishing tackle under a rulemaking petition being advanced by a coalition of conservation and wildlife protection groups spearheaded by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Under the plan, the NPS would join 26 states and countries that have already banned lead ammo.

The ecological stakes are profound. Altogether, more than 130 park wildlife species are exposed to or killed by ingesting lead or prey contaminated with lead:

    • Lead is a leading threat to birdlife, especially bald eagles, hawks, and other raptors, as well as other birds from loons to condors;
    • Lead fragments from spent shells remain lodged throughout the wildlife food chain; and
    • Lost lead fishing tackle leads to elevated levels of lead in fish and amphibians.

Beyond harm to wildlife, human consumption of lead-shot game poses significant health risks.  For example, as we approach another Thanksgiving, scientists warn of the potentially severe and long-term ill effects of eating turkeys killed with lead ammunition.

“Banning lead from our national parks would be one of the single biggest conservation advances in a generation,” stated Rocky Mountain PEER Director Chandra Rosenthal, noting that early in the Obama years, the NPS briefly announced such a ban, called “Get the Lead Out” but reversed course under opposition from the National Rifle Association and ammunition and gun manufacturers. “It is high time for our parks to ‘Get the Lead Out.’”

While most parks by law do not permit hunting, some 76 of the total 423 national parks allow recreational, subsistence, or tribal hunting. However, those parks with hunting (the largest are in Alaska) cover more than 60% of land within the entire national park system. In addition, more than 85% of parks with fish (213 in all) are open for fishing.

“The Golden Eagle, California Condor, and dozens of other species are under threat from lead ammunition and fishing tackle,” said Hardy Kern, American Bird Conservancy’s Director of Government Relations, Pesticides and Birds Campaign. “Our public lands should be safe havens for wildlife, and lead has no place on them.”

“The science is clear—lead-based ammunition and fishing tackle are harmful to wildlife and human health.” stated Jacob Carter, Research Director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The National Park Service should heed the evidence, protect our public lands and wildlife, and ban lead from our national parks.”

In September, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced a phase-out of lead ammunition and fishing tackle in 18 National Wildlife Refuges.


Read the Lead Ban in Parks petition 

Look at the latest research showing the devastating impact of lead on bald eagles   

See the study of lead contamination in wild turkeys 

Revisit the short-lived 2009 Park Service lead ammunition ban 

Compare 2019 California law phasing out lead ammo to protect condors 

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