Who Or What Is Project Gutpile? (reposted)

This post was originally written in November 2010 concerning a supposed hunting group called Project Gutpile. They were part of the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to force the EPA to ban lead ammunition and lead fishing sinkers. The EPA had concluded that they did not have that authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. The District Court agreed and dismissed the suit.

Now the Center for Biological Diversity is back again and so is the supposed hunting group Project Gutpile with a second petition to the Environmental Protection Agency asking that lead bullets and shot be banned. The New York Times featured a story on the new petition today and again they gave prominent play to Project Gutpile.

But Anthony Prieto, a hunter who lives in Santa Barbara, Calif. and leads Project Gutpile, a group that advocates non-lead ammunition and is party to the petition, said that copper bullets work just fine. “I’ve had no problem with copper bullets for the last 13 years,” he said. “And it doesn’t fragment like lead does.”

Mr. Prieto said he normally opposes bans of this sort. But after working to preserve the California condor and seeing several animals die of unintended lead poisoning, he said, he felt the need to take a stand. “I just got tired of it,” said Mr. Prieto, who recently wrote about the issue in an opinion piece in The New York Times. “You have to do something to wake people up.”

I called Project Gutpile a Potemkin Village of an organization in 2010 and I stand by those words today. They were (and remain) “useful idiots” for those who would conspire to ban hunting and, more importantly, to attack the Second Amendment by making ammunition prohibitively expensive. I would also call your attention to the comments including the one by Rob Vance who has lived in Santa Barbara for many years and has never heard of this group.

The original post is below and has not been edited except to remove out of date videos and replace it with his updated video.

Yesterday, the Center for Biological Diversity along with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Project Gutpile filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Environmental Protection Agency. After their petition to ban lead ammunition and lead fishing sinkers was denied by the EPA, they have sued in an effort to force a ban on lead ammunition and fishing sinkers. CBD and PEER are well-known and well-funded environmental lobbies.

Project Gutpile, on the other hand, is an organization that has come out of nowhere to be a participant in the suit. They are portrayed as a hunting group which is against the use of lead ammunition due to its toxic effects on wildlife. Their very name comes across as a caricature of a hunting group. It conjures up images of air-brushed T-shirts saying “Happiness is a Big Gut Pile”.

So who or what are they?

The lawsuit identifies them as:

Plaintiff Project Gutpile is an educational organization comprised of hunters that provides educational resources for lead-free hunters and anglers. Project Gutpile members observe, research, study, and seek protections for the wildlife species that are vulnerable to lead poisoning by lead bullets, shot, and sinkers, and intend to continue to do so in the future. Project Gutpile’s members and staff derive scientific, recreational, conservation, and aesthetic benefits from these species’ existence in the wild and these benefits will be harmed by the damage to wildlife by lead bullets, shot, and sinkers. Project Gutpile has been promoting non-lead ammunition and raising lead awareness in the hunting community since 2002. Project Gutpile co-authored the Petition and brings this action on its behalf and on behalf of its adversely affected members and staff.

Based upon this description, one gets the idea that they are a fairly large organization with a paid staff of Ph.D. level biologists and wildlife experts as well as on-going research that appears in peer-reviewed journals.

The reality, however, is that they are to major hunting groups like the Safari Club as Potemkin villages are to real towns and villages. In other words, they are a facade.They are useful when “environmental” groups need to trot out a “hunting organization” to mainstream their argument. In other words, useful idiots to use the Communist term.

The organization is the brainchild of Santa Barbara, California musician Anthony Prieto who describes himself as a lifelong hunter with a love for the California condor. His love for the condor has been translated into his “concern” over the supposed poisoning of the condor through eating carcasses shot with lead bullets.

He has been the feature of a glowing story in Audubon Magazine. The organization received a grant from the Fund for Santa Barbara to educate hunters and ranchers on alternatives to lead ammo. The grant was for all of $2,400.

As to the aims and size of the organization, let’s let Anthony tell us himself.

Video Removed – The original is no longer on Exposure Room but in it Prieto detailed his organization.

Four members. And this video was updated only two months ago. I have no doubt he is sincere in his beliefs and has a genuine concern for the California condor. However, junk science is not the way to promote conservation of the California condor.

For an example of his scientific method, watch the pig hunt below. He shoots the pig with a “lead bullet” which causes a “snowstorm of lead” as seen by an X-ray.Why he doesn’t think of using hardcast lead isn’t explored nor other less expanding bonded bullets.


The Non-Lead Hunter from Anthony Prieto on Vimeo.

Tom McIntyre has been a contributing editor of Sports Afield magazine for many, many years. He has hunted on six continents and is as astute an observer of hunting and hunting organizations as you will find. He wondered about Project Gutpile just like I did. In a blog post on them and those who use them he had this to say:

This is a perfectly transparent tactic by the CBD, one often resorted to by progressives, and let it be noted, by more than a few reactionaries, to grant authority to some essentially nebulous, straw-man group, from a supposedly divergent, and unexpected, segment of the political spectrum, which echoes, or apes, their own position.

Anti-gunners have, in opposition to the NRA, the vocally pro-Obama, and in almost every other respect obscure, American Hunters and Shooters Association (with which the hideous Jimmy Carter’s former press secretary Jody Powell is somehow affiliated), which claims to be—wait for it—

…a national grassroots organization committed to safe and responsible gun ownership. We are a mainstream group of hunters who are looking to belong to a gun owners association that doesn’t have a radical agenda.

McIntyre notes, “And we see that none of it’s about lead, at all, but about quicksilver, the kind found in smoke and mirrors.”

As I said earlier, I have no doubt that Anthony Prieto is concerned about the condor and believes what he believes. That said, Project Gutpile is merely a useful front group for environmental organizations in much the same way that the American Hunters and Shooters Association was in 2008 for anti-gun politicians.


9 thoughts on “Who Or What Is Project Gutpile? (reposted)”

  1. Jon, I live in Santa Barbara and have since 1973. I was a member of the Board of Directors of the local gun range, Winchester Canyon Gun Club, and of the local Friends of the NRA chapter. I've NEVER heard of this guy. What we have here is a false flag operation.

  2. I like the total lack of concern for their own health while taking an xray of the boar he shot. No lead shielding.

    These people are concerned about lead and yet are exposing themselves to radiation with no protection. Even the technician person doesn't wear a lead vest.

  3. Before the now defunct AHSA, there was the "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS) which had McCain as its spokesman. They had funding by notorious anti-gunners as well.

    If you look at interviews by Rebecca Peters, former ED of IANSA, she touted a group "The original crocodile dundee's" who supported the bans. Of course no information can be found on them now.

  4. There are probably more condors killed by collisions with overhead wires of one kind or another than lead ingestion. With their large wingspan, they are more likely to be electrocuted too.
    I suggest we start "Project Pylon" to demand all overhead wires & cables are placed underground.

  5. In the end, it's about habitat. Humans activities like agriculture now occupy vast amounts of what was once condor territory. We can't have both, and I for one, vote for the humans.

  6. I agree with the key points of this post. It looks like Project Gutpile misrepresented itself to the EPA, and to the public, and this article definitely eliminated their credibility in my opinion.

    But I'm curious about your view of the NYT article itself. It raises some strong points (Project Gutpile aside). If the Condor's diet consists of dead animals, and many dead animals are killed with lead bullets, it makes sense to me that regulators and the private sector should at least contemplate some alternatives.

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