Mark Sandness, Hunting Works For North Dakota; The Bismarck Tribune; February 05, 2017
As a lifelong hunter, I have seen many new hunters, both young and old, harvest their first pheasant. The smiles and excitement are priceless. Whether it’s watching a good dog work a patch of grass, having a bird explode from under your feet, or listening to friends and family reminisce of past adventures, hunting is a time-honored tradition.
I’m deeply concerned with one of the final acts the Obama administration put in place, which was an order to ban traditional ammunition on most federal lands. The fact of the matter is, this misguided directive is going to push hunters away from the sport, which has serious long-term implications for our state.
Whenever I spend money on hunting or recreational shooting, I’m proud to know I’m supporting local businesses and conservation programs. It is this money spent by hunters and shooters that pays for conservation via licenses and stamps and the Pittman-Robertson Act, which became law in 1937 and created an 11 percent tax on all ammunition, firearms and other hunting equipment. Believe it or not, hunters lobbied for these taxes and fees themselves because, as hunters, we understand the true importance of conservation.
Unfortunately, this directive from the Obama administration was hastily put in place at the last minute without any public input or proper legislative hearings. Issued under cover of darkness by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, Director’s Order 219 places an immediate ban on the use of traditional ammunition in national parks, wildlife refuges and all other lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This order, if not quickly eradicated by the new administration, could drastically impact hunters and conservation as a whole in our country. What Ashe fails to mention is the more expensive alternative ammunition (though not statistically safer) that would be required on many public hunting lands under Director’s Order 219 will price many hunters out of the market. This reduction in hunters will result in not only a loss in wildlife management dollars for the state, but also jobs. Currently, hunting supports over 2,300 jobs in the state.
Make no mistake about it, Ashe’s order is a radical act of executive overreach with no supporting scientific data to back up the claim. Director’s Order 219 cites as its basis the misleading, if not fully debunked, claim that there is an “ongoing risk” to birds that ingest “spent shot directly from the ground or as a result of predating or scavenging carcasses that have been killed with lead ammunition and left in the field.” This misleading statement offers no scientific data nor actuarial study to give credence to his claim. The reason Ashe fails to cite supporting data is because it simply doesn’t exist.
For more than a century, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely consumed game harvested using traditional hunting ammunition. Absent sound scientific evidence, there is no justifications for restricting or banning its use. We have seen similar tactics over the years from the radical, anti-hunting lobby. Unfortunately in this case, Director’s Order 219 harms what it claims to help most, namely habitat and wildlife populations.
Hunters were the first group to take action to protect, conserve and enhance America’s wildlife over 100 years ago. For the sake of hunters, future generations and wildlife across North Dakota, let’s hope that the new administration does the right thing and eliminates this nonsense once and for all.