The Short Life of an Ammo Ban in National Parks

In practically his last minutes in office, political appointee Dan Ashe of the US Fish and Wildlife Service banned ordinary ammunition, not just for hunting but for all purposes including self-defense, on all federal lands.

Ashe waited until the last minute in hopes that the ban could take hold before his replacement could overturn it. (Ashe knew from the transition team that his services were no longer required, and his last day was 20th January. He has been found a job in a non-profit that does not require him to relocate from his beloved Imperial City of Washington, DC).

The ban, which took effect immediately, eliminates the use of lead-based ammunition on federal lands like national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as any other land administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The ban is expected to have a major impact on much of the hunting that takes place on federal lands across the United States as lead-based ammunition is widely legal and used throughout the country.

Ashe said the order was necessary to protect wildlife from exposure to lead.

“Exposure to lead ammunition and fishing tackle has resulted in harmful effects to fish and wildlife species,” Ashe said in his order. “According to the U.S. Geological Survey, lead poisoning is a toxicosis caused by the absorption of hazardous levels of lead in body tissues.”

Boy, are there some bureaucrats who need “a toxicosis caused by the absorption of hazardous levels of lead in body tissues,” or what? But we digress.

Ashe made a sanctimonious attempt to cloak his ban in concern for wildlife.

“Ingested lead pellets from shotgun shells have been a common source of lead poisoning in birds… The use of lead ammunition …[presents] an ongoing risk to upland or terrestrial migratory birds and other species 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.”

via Obama Official Issues Ammunition Ban for Federal Lands on Last Day.

Unlike many Fish & Wildlife Service officials, who tend to be sportsmen from rural America, Ashe is a second-generation career bureaucrat who has never in his adult life lived outside of the National Capital Area and never held a job in the productive sector of the economy (He still hasn’t, in his new capacity as the head of the Association of Zoos, etc.)

Ashe’s 19 January order lasted all the way until 5 March… because the Senate took its time confirming current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Zinke, who rocked the Washington press corps, not to mention the Interior bureaucracy, by riding a horse to his office on his first day, hit the Ashe ban like a .600 Nitro Express:

Ryan Zinke’s first act on his first day as interior secretary was shooting down an order signed two months ago that banned use of lead ammunition on federal land managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Zinke’s order revoked a previous order requiring use of nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle signed Jan. 19 by outgoing FWS Director Dan Ashe that had been criticized by some hunting and angling groups.

Zinke also signed a second order directing bureaus and agencies managing all federal land to immediately identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded.

Over the past eight years, Zinke said, there’s been a decrease in access to public land.

Of course, that access loss has come about at the hands of urban bureaucrats like Dan Ashe.

The horse thing matters, and the symbology is deeper than you think. Like the DC press corps, most of the employees of the Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service can’t ride a horse, and would look silly trying to mount one. Hell, most of them can’t drive a stick shift — but they know their way around the Washington Metro.

When Theodore Roosevelt created National Parks as a thing, he never imagined enormous Washington bureaucracies exerting dictatorial power over the outdoors, but staffed almost entirely by strangers to the outdoors.

Even a hagiographic press release lauding Ashe in expectation of his departure scrambles to find actual accomplishments in his nearly six years as FWS supremo. In the end, they came up with: he was good at growing the bureaucracy and expanding quotas for racial minority hiring, and was good at opposing protests on Federal land, when he didn’t agree with the protesters.

18 thoughts on “The Short Life of an Ammo Ban in National Parks

  1. Aesop

    Come here for the weaponology, stay for the snort-worthy good news.

    WTF was with the Hussein admin and guys named AssAshe??
    Musta been the name of one of Obozo’s long-lost college heartthrobs.

  2. Keith

    As far as the point about lead shot was concerned I though bird shot had been converted to steel many years ago for that very reason?

    Keep your powder dry and your faith in God.

    1. John Distai

      The concern is the use of lead shot on upland game, small game or non-waterfowl birds. I’d like to see the toxicology data they have with regards to animals and blood lead levels.

      1. Aesop

        They keep it in the cookie jar right next to Globull Warming Data. And Bigfoot. And the Moon Landing Hoax.

        Oh! Sorry…the cat’s eaten it.

    2. Hognose Post author

      Yes, but this was for large and small game hunting, and even self-defense ammunition. If he could have banned self-defense carry in the Parks, he would have done, but his hands were tied on that by Congress.

  3. TomcatTCH

    It’s entertaining that the scare articles supporting this can’t be bothered to use even made up statistics to support their side, only emotional appeals and related pictures.

    Come on, if it’s a problem, there is data to support the existence of said problem.

  4. joshua

    Bureaucrats don’t ride the Metro with the unwashed masses; they have car services on call or shlep themselves to their underground parking.
    Next time you are in DC and see that the average driver is unable to merge, signal or maintain a suitable speed, remember that only SESs and GS15s have parking… and that the majority of the idiots on the road are the same idiots putting out SES-level Executive Orders.

    1. Boat Guy

      Heaven forbid they would have to mingle with the peasants; those parking spaces are among the prerequisites the vermin LIVE for (at some level likely kill for).
      Ryan is one of my favorite Team Guys ever. Guy’s got some style all his own.

  5. Joe

    Not even the tip of the iceberg:

    Carolyn B. Meyer, Joseph S. Meyer, Alex B. Francisco, Jennifer Holder, Frederik Verdonck, Csaba Moskát, Can Ingestion of Lead Shot and Poisons Change Population Trends of Three European Birds: Grey Partridge, Common Buzzard, and Red Kite?, PLOS ONE, 2016, 11, 1, e0147189

    Travis J. Runia, Alex J. Solem, Spent lead shot availability and ingestion by ring-necked pheasants in South Dakota, Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2016, 40, 3, 477

    Brian L. Pierce, Thomas A. Roster, Michael C. Frisbie, Corey D. Mason, Jay A. Roberson, A comparison of lead and steel shot loads for harvesting mourning doves, Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2015, 39, 1, 103

    Manuela Carneiro, Bruno Colaço, Ricardo Brandão, Beatriz Azorín, Olga Nicolas, Jorge Colaço, Maria João Pires, Susana Agustí, Encarna Casas-Díaz, Santiago Lavin, Paula A. Oliveira, Assessment of the exposure to heavy metals in Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) from the Iberian Peninsula, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 2015, 113, 295

    Catherine E. Baxter, Sara Pappas, Michael T. Abel, Ronald J. Kendall, Organochlorine pesticides, lead, and mercury in northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) from the rolling plains ecoregion of Texas and Oklahoma, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2015, 34, 7, 1505

    Richard J. Bingham, Randy T. Larsen, John A. Bissonette, Jeffery O. Hall, Widespread ingestion of lead pellets by wild chukars in Northwestern Utah, Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2015, 39, 1, 94

    Tapio Eeva, Miia Rainio, Åsa Berglund, Mirella Kanerva, Janina Stauffer, Mareike Stöwe, Suvi Ruuskanen, Experimental manipulation of dietary lead levels in great tit nestlings: limited effects on growth, physiology and survival, Ecotoxicology, 2014, 23, 5, 914

    Pierre Legagneux, Pauline Suffice, Jean-Sébastien Messier, Frédérick Lelievre, Junior A. Tremblay, Charles Maisonneuve, Richard Saint-Louis, Joël Bêty, Christopher James Johnson, High Risk of Lead Contamination for Scavengers in an Area with High Moose Hunting Success, PLoS ONE, 2014, 9, 11, e111546

    Ryan L. Perroy, Colin S. Belby, Cody J. Mertens, Mapping and modeling three dimensional lead contamination in the wetland sediments of a former trap-shooting range, Science of The Total Environment, 2014, 487, 72

    Alessandro Andreotti, Fabrizio Borghesi, Embedded lead shot in European starlings Sturnus vulgaris: an underestimated hazard for humans and birds of prey, European Journal of Wildlife Research, 2013, 59, 5, 705

    C. K. Johnson, T. R. Kelly, B. A. Rideout, Lead in Ammunition: A Persistent Threat to Health and Conservation, EcoHealth, 2013, 10, 4, 455

    Peter Sanderson, Ravi Naidu, Nanthi Bolan, Mark Bowman, Stuart Mclure, Effect of soil type on distribution and bioaccessibility of metal contaminants in shooting range soils, Science of The Total Environment, 2012, 438, 452

    Terra R. Kelly, Christine K. Johnson, Andrew Iwaniuk, Lead Exposure in Free-Flying Turkey Vultures Is Associated with Big Game Hunting in California, PLoS ONE, 2011, 6, 4, e15350

    Stephanie C. Plautz, Richard S. Halbrook, Donald W. Sparling, Lead shot ingestion by mourning doves on a disked field, The Journal of Wildlife Management, 2011, 75, 4, 779

    1. Raoul Duke

      …which is why there is a federal and state-by-state ban on lead shot for waterfowl hunting, already.

      This is not the issue at hand. What was done, under the cover of darkness, with no debate or vote, was a blanket prohibition on ALL lead ammunition.

      If it had to be done in secret, with no due process, what does that say about their motives?

  6. TBoone

    Perhaps a new lottery system for coveted covered underground parking spaces could be instituted. To qualify ‘for’ said lottery you must legally catch, clean & cook a fishie. Or hunt, shoot & gut a critter. On Federal Lands. Or spend your copious Vacay time clearing Parks Trails in the UP. After arriving there by bicycle….

    Let’s show the Outdoors who wants to Park, Indoors.

    1. Mike_C

      If you’re using the word “critter” in the Lawdog-ian sense then I am with you.

  7. John M.

    “Zinke, who rocked the Washington press corps, not to mention the Interior bureaucracy, by riding a horse to his office on his first day…”

    If Zinke has made it this far without anyone having said to him, “And the horse you rode in on!”, then DC is an even drearier place than I had suspected.

    -John M.

    1. Boat Guy

      It’s tough to adequately describe the dreariness of Sodom-on-Potomac if you haven’t worked there.

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