Our new Interior secretary moves to pollute public lands on his first day in office

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rode a horse to the office on his first day (seriously). After arriving, he promptly issued an order overturning the ban on lead ammunition used on public lands. “I approach this job in the same way that Boy Scouts taught me so long ago: Leave the campsite in better condition than I found it,” he said without irony. But if that is true, then why would Zinke allow hunters to leave behind contaminated ammo that kills an estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals from lead poisoning?

Nearly three years ago, NRDC and 10 other organizations filed a legal petition to prohibit the use of lead ammunition on 160 million acres of our national parks and wildlife refuges—for one simple reason: Lead is toxic. When hunters use lead ammunition, they poison any animal that subsequently feeds on any remains left in the field. About 130 species in the United States are exposed to lead every year, including millions of birds, like eagles and condors. Studies have even shown elevated lead levels in Yellowstone grizzly bears' blood during hunting season. Human are also at risk because lead bullets can fragment badly when they strike an animal, leaving tiny pieces of lead scattered throughout meat. All that is why California completely banned lead ammunition years ago. Moreover, lead is also completely unnecessary. Alternative ammunition (mostly copper and copper alloy bullets) are now widely available for virtually all firearms—and are equal to or superior in performance compared to lead bullets. In America, we don’t put lead in paint anymore. We don’t put it in gasoline. But the Trump administration is fine with allowing wildlife and our wild places to be senselessly poisoned? Secretary Zinke should be getting the lead out, not into public lands.

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