Thursday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order on his first day in office, overturning an Obama policy that banned hunting with lead ammunition and fishing tackle on wildlife refuges, reports the Washington Times.
The policy was originally implemented by former Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe on the Obama administration’s final full day in office was intended to prevent lead poisoning of animals on federal lands regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Since the legislation was enacted, many critics–namely, sportsmen’s groups and gun rights advocates–argue the real reason for the ban on lead ammunition was to discourage hunting and fishing for many Americans.
“After reviewing the order and the process by which it was promulgated, I have determined that the order is not mandated by any existing statutory or regulatory requirement and was issued without significant communication, consultation or coordination with affected stakeholders,” Zinke wrote in his order.
Zinke’s first action will reportedly be confirmed in a bipartisan Senate vote on Wednesday.
Supporters of the Obama lead-ban contend that Zinke repealing the order is dangerous.
“There’s just no excuse not to make the transition [away from lead bullets], except for knee-jerk opposition from a segment of society that simply thinks it’s acceptable collateral damage for upwards of 15 million animals from more than 130 species to die of lead poisoning every year,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement. “Hunters can still pursue their hobby without dumping tons of toxic poison on the wildlife who live there.”
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) March 2, 2017
The newly-appointed Interior Secretary also signed an order Thursday calling for agencies to find ways to expand access to outdoor recreation on the lands they oversee.
“Over the past eight years … hunting, and recreation enthusiasts have seen trails closed and dramatic decreases in access to public lands across the board,” Zinke said in a statement. He added, “It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite. This package of secretarial orders will expand access for outdoor enthusiasts and also make sure the community’s voice is heard.”
“Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy. Between hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, camping and more, the industry generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” Zinke said.
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