Non-lead ammunition and other outdoor news

Posted on: August 1, 2018 | Bob Frye | Comments

Non-lead ammunition is more costly.

Non-lead ammunition is potentially better for wildlife and humans, some say. But it’s also more expensive, on average.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures

A roundup of outdoor news from around the country …

The lead debate rages on, but with a new twist.

Lead dominates the ammunition market, serving as the raw material for more bullets than anything else. It’s been that way for centuries.

Hunters must use non-lead ammunition for waterfowl, but that’s it.

For now, anyway.

Recently, all across the country, there’s been talk – and in cases even action – of changing that, and encouraging or even mandating the use of non-lead ammunition.

It will be illegal to hunt with any lead ammunition in California as of July 1, 2019. Arizona encourages hunters to use non-lead bullets in areas where the California condor lives.

Pennsylvania’s Game Commission is encouraging hunters to use non-lead bullets and bury or hide carcasses starting this fall to protect scavenging bald eagles and other raptors.

Other states are going down that road, too.

The North American Non-Lead Partnership — formed late last year by the Oregon Zoo, The Peregrine Fund and the Institute for Wildlife Studies — seeks to expand the coalition of hunters, anglers and other conservationists dedicated to improving ecosystem and wildlife health by choosing non-lead options.

“This is a long-term, multi-organization effort to help North America’s wildlife,” said Leland Brown, the Oregon Zoo’s non-lead hunting education coordinator and a lifelong outdoorsman.

Three state wildlife agencies — the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife — have recently joined the partnership, and at least five sports groups have pledged their support. One, the Arizona chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, even committed to an annual donation to support the efforts.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife director Curt Melcher said his agency is not mandating lead-free ammunition. Like its counterpart in Pennsylvania, it’s encouraging hunters to voluntarily switch.

“We’re excited about the partnership and confident that working with stakeholders — on all sides of the lead issue — is necessary to ensure the long-term health of Utah’s wildlife and their habitats,” added Mike Fowlks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources director.

And the Non-Lead Partnership noted that efforts to remove lead from other products – from gasoline to paint – began as far back as the 1980s. Asking hunters to switch from lead is not an anti-hunting or anti-gun, it said.

In fact, it supports the “continued long-term viability of scientifically managed hunting and the associated conservation culture by providing programs that encourage sports-men and -women participation in conservation actions.”

Yet, lead remains the most commonly available and most affordable type of ammunition on the market, though. So talk continues.

John Kline, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs – that state’s largest sportsmen’s group – said its board members will discuss the lead issue at their next meeting in September. He admitted it remains “controversial even among our own ranks.”

“It’s going to be very interesting. I’m not sure how that’s going to go,” Kline said.

Hunting changes

Pennsylvania Game Commissioners made it official: there will be managed dove fields in the state.

Board members gave final approval to rules saying so at their recent meeting.

Managed fields are those where “grain or other agricultural or natural food has been scattered where it’s grown.” Crops are cut a bit at a time, and the food left lying on the ground, to attract doves for hunting.

Still, it will remain illegal to scatter food or grain not naturally grown on site.

Other states use managed fields to create hunting opportunities now.

West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources, for example, allows hunters, by lottery, to take part in a controlled hunt at the South Branch Wildlife Management Area in Hardy County. Hunters and up to two guests are assigned a shooting station.

At the same time, Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval to two other rules changes.

One says municipalities seeking to get a deer control permit to cull whitetails must first offer a public hunting program. The other expands the requirements for becoming a licensed hunting guide. Prospective guides must take written and skills tests, if the measure gets final approval this fall.

Paying for conservation

Legislation that would fund fish and wildlife management in America into the next century is now before Congress.

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leaders Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), along with CSC Member Senator Lamar Alexander (TN), recently introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

It would take $1.3 billion of existing revenue from royalties on onshore energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters spend it on providing funding for state-based fish and wildlife conservation.

A companion bill is also before the House of Representatives.

The language and concepts behind both are explained at

Meanwhile, the bill has the support of many conservation organizations.

The National Wildlife Federation, Outdoor Industry Association and Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, among others, voiced support for it.

Seeking disease

So, how prevalent and widespread is chronic wasting disease in Mississippi?

Officials with that state’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks tried to find out this winter by using sharpshooters to kill and test 481 deer. Shooters killed all within 25 miles of where a dead, free-ranging, 4.5-year-old buck showed up this summer.

It had chronic wasting disease. It was the first deer in Mississippi testing positive for CWD.

No other sick deer turned up.

Meanwhile, shooters killed an additional 300 deer in Louisiana, as the 25-mile radius extended into that state.

But none of those proved positive either, said the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Crossbow designs

Most industries have standards that govern their products. That’s not the case when it comes to crossbows, however.

But that might change.

The North American Crossbow Federation is trying to establish “basic definitions, standards and testing procedures for the crossbow industry.” Five manufacturers and 10 others are on a committee mandated with settings standards.

The group met on July 31. Visitors to the Federation’s website can look under “industry standards” to see what’s under consideration.

Shooting resource

Just in time for August – National Shooting Sports Month around the country – the National Shooting Sports Foundation debuted a new resource. is a website for shooters, beginners to experienced. It offers information on where to go shooting, how to get started, equipment needs, and more.


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Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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