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Sportmen’s Heritage Act: Noem Protects Use of Lead Ammo on Public Lands

Rep. Kristi Noem voted with the House GOP majority last Tuesday in favor of HR 4089, the Sportsmen's Heritage Act, also known as the Recreational Shooting Protection Act. The bill purports to protect hunters' rights to enjoy the chase on federal lands like Bureau of Land Management rangeland and areas of the Black Hills under control of the U.S. Forest Service.

Various sportsmen expressed concern that the bill as introduced would have allowed increased use of motorized vehicles, roadbuilding, and even mineral exploration on federal lands... none of which activities seem to have much to do with our hunting heritage. Even Gordon Howie would agree that ATVs can create a heck of a mess. House Amendment 1005 appears to have clarified that HR 4089 will not open the door to motorized recreation or mineral extraction.

However, another provision of the Sportsmen's Heritage Act includes a typical short-sighted dig at the Environmental Protection Agency. Rep. Noem and her colleagues want to block the EPA from regulating the use of lead ammunition and sinkers on federal land.

Some hunters and anglers prefer lead because it's cheaper, and dismiss scientific warnings about its toxicity. But aside from the potential health effects on sportsmen and women themselves, the lead also poses a risk to wildlife — and not just the ones being hunted. An array of studies have shown lead moving through the environment, often when bullet fragments or lost fishing sinkers are ingested by birds such as condors, turkey vultures, loons and bald eagles. One 2006 study found that lead bullet fragments in ground squirrels were poisoning hawks. According to the CBD, lead sickens and kills "more than 75 species of birds and nearly 50 mammals" [Russell McLendon, "U.S. House OKs 'Sportmen's Heritage Act'," Mother Nature Network, 2012.04.21 ].

Apparently in Kristi's mind, protecting our "heritage" means protecting toxic practices from the past.

I'm fine with hunting, and I'm fine with allowing all citizens to enjoy the land we hold in public trust. But we should keep those lands open in ways that protect their resources, not pollute them. As the Sportsmen's Heritage Act heads to the Senate, contact Senators Thune and Johnson and encourage them to remove the anti-EPA and anti-wildlife rhetoric from this bill so it can serve the interests of hunters and the environment alike.


  1. Donald Pay 2012.04.24

    She's an idiot, probably the result of ingesting lead.

  2. larry kurtz 2012.04.24

    Don is right: Noem is a loser bent on destroying public lands so that the extractive and livestock special interests can sweep in to save the day by plundering wildlands.

  3. Anne 2012.04.24

    She has an apparent affinity for lead, as she demonstrated with her foot.

  4. Bill Fleming 2012.04.24

    LOL. Good one Anne.

  5. Steve Sibson 2012.04.24

    So where does lead come from?

  6. Eve Fisher 2012.04.24

    I wrote a letter to Noem about the HR4089 and got back an e-mail with the usual blah about how it increased opportunities for hunters and sportsmen. Never a mention about the concerns that I had stated about mining, logging, etc. And no mention of lead. I guess she thinks like the former Director of the Texas Water Quality Board, "Cyanide [in this case lead] is a scare word."

  7. Bill Fleming 2012.04.24

    Sibby, hopefully not from the pheasant breast you have for dinner?

    Because it's poison?

    Is this a trick question?

    If so, here's the working hypothesis:

    Lead and all other "heavy metals" (beyond iron) are believed to have formed during supernova explosions of stars.

    From there, there are several interesting theories as to how it came to be distributed around planet Earth:

  8. Steve Sibson 2012.04.24

    Bill, so it is in "planet Earth". So why are the Earth worshippers so anti-lead? If we are to remove it from Earth, where do we dispose of it?

  9. Donald Pay 2012.04.24

    Really? This is just basic, long-established science.

    There are lots of natural elements and chemical compounds that may not be harmful at low levels, but are extremely dangerous at higher levels. Some of these chemicals bioamplify as they move through the trophic chain. Lead has been found to be a serious problem, especially for developing neurological systems. Children are especially at risk. It causes mortality and interferes with reproduction and survival of wetland and other birds. Responsibe hunters have recognized this for decades, and have switched to non-toxic shot.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.04.24

    Donald, she does hunt a lot. Must carry lead shot.

    Oh, Steve, your sophistry against rhetorical opponents of your creation is deafening.

  11. Tony Amert 2012.04.24

    Sibby, lead is commonly found as lead-sulfide in nature as opposed to other compounds made by man that are not commonly found in nature. Most importantly, it's both insoluble in water and if ingested, stable at human blood ph levels. This means that our bodies can identify it and excrete it.

    Unfortunately, direct contact with most man made lead compounds leads to lead oxide getting into the blood which IS soluable so it sticks around forever leading to it building up in our systems.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.04.25

    Sounds like pretty simple science to me, Tony. That must be why Noem and her fellow Republicans don't want to listen to it. Good science and environmental stewardship are less important than anti-regulatory grandstanding.

  13. Matt Groce 2012.04.25

    I'm surprised (although really I shouldn't be) that they're making a big deal out of lead shot. It's such a non issue.

    It's been 30 years since they started limiting when and where you could use lead shot. You can't use it when hunting waterfowl, or any game on almost any state owned land.

    I don't know many guys that even use lead anymore.

  14. Bill Fleming 2012.04.25

    Except maybe Sibby. Sounds like he uses #4 leadshot in his pepper grinder.

  15. Steve Sibson 2012.04.25

    "Unfortunately, direct contact with most man made lead compounds leads to lead oxide getting into the blood which IS soluable so it sticks around forever leading to it building up in our systems."

    So Tony, are bullets made out of lead or lead ozide?

  16. Carter 2012.04.25

    It doesn't matter, Steve.

    First off, I'm not an expert. I was under the impression that lead alone was also poisonous, though again, I'm not an expert, so I won't argue with Tony.

    However, lead reacts with moisture to form Lead oxide. Lead oxide and water, I believe, forms lead hydroxide. Both of these are poisonous. So, Steve, since the body is ~80% water, lead in your body will react and begin to form lead oxide, and then you get lead poisoning (eventually). Science!

  17. Tony Amert 2012.04.25

    Neither, they are usually made out of alloys of lead and other metals. These alloys only oxidize in the presence of water so are relatively stable if kept dry. The alloys are used because they are very malleable which is important for bullets.

  18. Steve Sibson 2012.04.25

    So water comes from Earth, and lead comes from Earth. But Earth does not allow lead to come in contact with water?

  19. larry kurtz 2012.04.25

    With whom do you wish to do battle today, Steve? It's my turn probably.

  20. larry kurtz 2012.04.25

    Troy would likely call lead (ip sez Lead) a toxic asset.

  21. Carter 2012.04.25

    Larry, your outlook on Steve reminds me of that Nietzsche quote about fighting with monsters.

  22. Bill Fleming 2012.04.25

    Oh goody. Sibby's doing physics and chemestry.

    Steve, it's like this, paper covers rock, rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper.

    If lead is a rock, what kind of animals fly south for the winter?

  23. Carter 2012.04.25

    Yes, Steve. Water and lead both come from the Earth, but they don't do well together. That's just how it works. There are lots of things on Earth that don't interact well with each other.

  24. LK 2012.04.25

    "If lead is a rock, what kind of animals fly south for the winter?"

    The ones that think traveling in a motor home pulling hybrid car is gauche.

  25. tonyamert 2012.04.25


    Of course they do at some points. However, through natural processes lead in the environment preferentially forms lead sulfide. This is the natural equilibrium point. However, if you take lead sulfide and refine it into lead, add some tin to make an allow, shape it into a bullet, and then fire it from your weapon and leave the bullet open to the natural environment, it first forms lead oxide which is water soluable and contaminates the ground water/etc. Then, over hundreds of thousands of years because of very slow natural processes, natural acids like sulfuric acid will convert it to lead sulfide which will then precipitate it out of the water supply. Then, over millions of years, these precipitates will form natural deposits.

    This is just the natural set point of earth. If, for example, our water was substantially more acidic, the removal and precipitation process would be much faster due to higher concentrations of sulfuric acid. Similar processes are used at our water treatment plants to remove undesirable heavy metals such as lead.

  26. Matt Groce 2012.04.25

    I just want to point out that Tony and I were in the same physics class in high school, and sometimes even the same lab group. He's obviously is the one who paid attention.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.04.25

    Steve is concocting some sort of twisted John-Birch shibboleth syllogism. Drop the bait, let him be... and call your senator to ask why the heck we would strip the EPA of its authority to regulate toxic substances that, as Matt noted, sportsmen themselves have recognized is bad for wildlife and the environment.

  28. larry kurtz 2012.04.26

    KW spotlights Carter-era success in Whitewood Creek clean-up: RCJ. Oxides of lead and other metals still persist in the watershed.

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