Ryan Zinke Ammunition Policy Poisons Hunters
When Ryan Zinke was appointed as Secretary of the Interior, one of the first things he did was sign an order destroying a ban on the use of ammunition containing lead in national wildlife refuges. Lead ammunition kills millions of wild animals every year – not just when the animals are shot, but when the animals ingest lead ammunition that has been left behind in the wilderness after hunters are done firing their guns.
The scientific research establishing the role of lead ammunition in poisoning wildlife is clear. There’s even research specifically identifying dangers from lead ammunition of poisoning of America’s official bird of patriotism, the bald eagle. Zinke just shrugged off the scientific research, and declared that the more important thing is that ammunition companies should be able to sell people cheap bullets.
What kind of kook would want to protect wildlife in a national wildlife refuge, after all?
Hunters benefit from cheap bullets, Zinke said. What Zinke didn’t mention is that cheap lead ammunition also makes hunters sick. The problem is that lead bullets tend to shatter more than other bullets when they hit their targets. That means that fragments of lead are spread throughout the bodies of the animals that hunters kill and eat. Cutting away the area immediately around the bullet wound doesn’t get rid of the lead contamination. Scientists who scanned meat processed from their kills by hunters found lead contamination in one third of the samples. The researchers wrote, “We conclude that people risk exposure to bioavailable lead from bullet fragments when they eat venison from deer killed with standard lead-based rifle bullets and processed under normal procedures. At risk in the U.S. are some ten million hunters, their families, and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations.”
That research was conducted in 2009. Ryan Zinke simply pretended the scientific analysis didn’t exist.
How far will Zinke go to deny that his policy allowing hunters to fire lead ammunition endangers hunters’ health? Will he ignore a new study published this week, which finds that people who fire guns using lead ammunition have levels of lead in their blood several times greater than the threshold that is typically regarded as dangerous? The study concluded that clouds of lead dust and gas are created when people fire guns using lead ammunition. So, hunters using lead bullets become poisoned even if they don’t eat the animals that they kill.
The study’s authors warn that, “The kind of blood-lead levels found among shooters can lead to essential tremor, hypertension, cardiovascular-related mortality, electrocardiography abnormalities, decreased kidney function, psychiatric effects, decreased hearing, decreased cognitive function, decreased fertility, incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, adverse sperm parameters, increased spontaneous abortion, and reduced foetal growth in children.”
Are you paying attention to these details, Republicans? Firing lead bullets leads to “decreased fertility” and “adverse sperm parameters”. Lead bullets are taking sapping American hunters of their virility!
There has been no comment about the study from Ryan Zinke. It is unknown if the reason for his silence on the subject has anything to do with “psychiatric effects” or “decreased cognitive function” resulting from long-term use of lead ammunition.