Did a Federal Agency Withhold Data to Get Lead Ammo Ban Passed in California?

The California condor.  According to the updated Fish and Wildlife report condors are still be exposed to lead despite the ammo ban.  The report said,  “[T]here are other sources of lead in the environment that condors may be accessing, including five individual condors apparently ingesting chips of lead-based paint in a fire tower (since remediated)."

According to the updated Fish and Wildlife report condors are still being exposed to lead despite the ammo ban. The report note, “[T]here are other sources of lead in the environment that condors may be accessing, including five individual condors apparently ingesting chips of lead-based paint in a fire tower (since remediated).”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is not happy with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The firearms industry trade organization is accusing the federal agency of purposely delaying the publication of an annual report concerning the effect lead-based ammunition has on California condors so that the governor and state Legislature would approve a bill banning the use of ammo containing lead components without first having a chance to look at the most recent data.

Through the Freedom of Information Act the NSSF was able to obtain emails that indicate John McCamman, California condor recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service, dragged his feet when it came time to publish the report, entitled, “California Condor Recovery Program, Project Update and 2011 and 2012 Lead Exposure Report,” in the Spring of 2013.

“[T]he email thread shows that they withheld that [information] from the public; they withheld it from the legislature purposely,” Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel, told the Washington Times in an interview. “And why? Because the results show that despite the existing law and regulations that ban the use of traditional ammunition by hunters, it was not having an impact on condor blood-lead levels in California.”

“Which suggests, as we have said all along, that condors in California are accessing lead from other sources, not ammunition,” added Keane.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the ban on traditional ammo in October 2013 after the state Assembly approved it by a vote of 44-21 in May and the Senate by a vote of 23-15 in September that year. According to the emails, a version the report was ready to go in April of 2013. However, it wasn’t released until seven days after the Senate voted on the bill.

“Joseph — is this ready to go? I’ve attached a summary document — the state has been avoiding getting into the middle of the legislatures business (AB711) but now that that is over, this has to be ready to go. … [Are] you comfortable?” wrote McCamman in an email dated Sept. 17, 2013, provided by the NSSF.

So, why did the Fish and Wildlife Service delay the release of the report?

McCamman was unavailable for comment but Scott Flaherty, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife, told the Washington Times, “I’m pretty sure it was not delayed simply to withhold it from the debate,” adding, “It’s not the business of the service to influence state legislation on condor matters.”

Needless to say, the NSSF isn’t buying it.

“It’s disingenuous if he were to suggest that he was somehow trying to stay out of it,” said Keane. “By withholding that information, he injected himself into it, and again, that information was relevant — highly relevant — to the debate. The public should have been allowed to take that into consideration — certainly members of the legislature, and even the governor, before signing the bill.”

Keane acknowledges that the ammo ban may have been signed into law regardless of the report, as the Legislature is controlled by Democrats, but iterated the call for transparency when dealing with an issue that adversely effects sportsmen and gun owners in the Golden State.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Frederick Gibson December 8, 2014, 10:15 pm

    Dear S.H., Thank you very much for this article! As a former California Hunter Education Instructor
    I cannot count the times I had tell hunters of “Upland” game birds that their relatively expensive
    No.2 lead shot had to be left in the trunk. That said, I was once upon a time a “Broadbill Hunter”
    for about ten years. In the Sixties, any Swordfish brought in had to have a Mercury Core taken from it
    and tested. Many fish were rejected. This went on for many years. Later,early seventies, research was conducted
    “Worldwide” that proved that Mercury was in all Swordfish and not just the Swordfish off our Coast that “We” had been
    “Poisoning” . It was very similar to the current “Lead” hysteria. Thank you again.

  • Russ December 8, 2014, 9:37 pm

    California is being legislated by the misinformed and uneducated politicians who do not posses facts.
    I should know, I’ve lived here all my 55 years of life.
    No matter what BS they come up with, we will design, invent, and overcome their ignorance with a new product.
    Let’s all go leadless!
    Then new products will come up.
    They will be even better, more lethal and effective, and boost our economy.
    Just check out these leadless bullets; https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mJGH7cDFw7c

    • Andrew N. December 12, 2014, 2:09 am

      AS a California Native, I’m here to tell you that the politicians do have the facts and information they need to make an informed and intelligent decision. They choose not to. They ignore any facts that contradict their chosen position, usually at the insistence of campaign contributors or gun control / anti-hunting groups that create a lot of noise.

  • John December 8, 2014, 10:04 am

    California is just on a campaign against lead because if they don’t there will be no need for their job. First it was paint because people were not watching their kids and of course kids just go around chewing on painted surfaces.Then it was wheel weights because they say one might fall off and go into a creek (you know how they always tend to come loose near creeks), now they are going for fishing weights, I did not know lead would dissolve. Basically it is nothing else to do, like so many government jobs, make work, keep busy retirement is coming, keep the union dues going and use up all that tax money and ask for more!

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