Parting Shot At Shooters And Hunters From The Obama Administration

Yesterday was the last full day of the Obama Administration. It did not pass without a last parting shot by the anti-hunting, anti-shooting so-called environmentalists. US Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe issued a Director’s Order that will ban the use of traditional, lead-based ammunition on Federal lands within five years. Thus it gives groups like the Center for Biological Diversity and Project Gutpile a win that they could not achieve in the courts.

Here in western North Carolina, the few public outdoor ranges that we have are on National Forest land. Checking the prices of copper based .223 ammo versus traditional ammo, the cheapest I can find a box of 20 rounds is for about $17 for copper versus about $6 for Tula or $8,.50 for American Eagle. Forcing shooters to use non-lead ammunition will drive up the cost exponentially and drive people from the shooting sports for economic reasons.

The NSSF is crying foul on this move.

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, condemned the decision by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe banning the use of traditional ammunition on Service lands in just five years.

The parting shot, Director’s Order 219 , was issued on the final full day of President Obama’s administration. The last-minute action revives an effort the administration undertook eight years ago to ban the use of traditional ammunition.

“This directive is irresponsible and driven not out of sound science but unchecked politics,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “The timing alone is suspect. This directive was published without dialogue with industry, sportsmen and conservationists. The next director should immediately rescind this, and instead create policy based upon scientific evidence of population impacts with regard to the use of traditional ammunition.”

The order requires several initiatives to go into effect immediately. Regional Directors are to work with state agencies to ban the use of traditional ammunition. It also ends the use of traditional ammunition on Federal land, including National Parks, tribal lands and national wildlife refuges in order to mirror policies in states where traditional ammunition is already restricted. The order “expeditiously” bans traditional ammunition “when available information indicates” that lead is harmful to wildlife, without requirement of a scientific threshold on which to base that action.

It also requires creation of a timeline to restrict traditional ammunition for dove and upland bird hunting.

Notice that last bit. They want to ban traditional ammo for dove hunting as well.

I hope this is one order that is rescinded after noon today when the Trump Administration takes office. I certainly hope so.

UPDATE: The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies which represents the fish and wildlife departments throughout the 50 states issued a very strong statement disagreeing with Director’s Order 219. They make the point that in the past any sort of move like this would have been a cooperative effort between state and federal wildlife agencies and that the states were caught by surprise by this order.

January 20, 2017

Statement from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Regarding U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director’s Order 219

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies expresses utter dismay with the release of Director’s Order 219, Use of Non-Toxic Ammo and Fishing Tackle, by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) on January 19, 2017. Association President Nick Wiley states that “this action flies squarely in the face of a long and constructive tradition of states working in partnership with the Service to effectively manage fish and wildlife resources.” He adds, “the Association views this Order as a breach of trust and deeply disappointing given that it was a complete surprise and there was no current dialogue or input from state fish and wildlife agencies prior to issuance. It does a disservice to hunters and anglers, the firearms and angling industries, and the many professionals on staff with the USFWS who desire a trusting and transparent relationship with their state partners.” This is unacceptable federal overreach into the states’ authority to regulate the methods of take for sport fish as well as complete disregard for the states’ concurrent jurisdiction with the Service for the management of migratory birds. Further, the economic impacts of this action, which likely will be felt most by rural Americans, is likely to be hundreds of millions of dollars.” The Association looks forward to working with a new Administration in the redress of this poorly timed and executed decision.

A point I didn’t make yesterday with the original post is that this order also impacts anglers as it also includes the phase-out of fishing tackle that includes lead. 

I want to emphasize that Dan Ashe’s Director’s Order 219 seeks to accomplish what court battles and petitions to the Environmental Protection Agency from 2010 through 2013 did not – the elimination of traditional ammo and fishing tackle. I foresee that this order will be reversed when Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) is finally confirmed as the Secretary of the Interior.

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.

NSSF Allowed Intervenor Status

From the National Shooting Sports Foundation:

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has granted NSSF’s motion to intervene in a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and several anti-hunting groups against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CBD’s underlying suit against the EPA seeks to have the court overturn the agency’s denial of a CBD petition filed in August of 2010 to have the EPA under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) issue regulations to ban the manufacture, sale and use of traditional ammunition containing lead components, as well as fishing tackle made with lead components. The EPA properly denied the petition to ban traditional ammunition because Congress expressly exempted ammunition from regulation by the EPA. Later, the EPA also denied the petition as to fishing tackle because the CBD failed to demonstrate a scientific basis for the EPA to act.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling because it will allow NSSF to ensure that the will of Congress is adhered to and the CBD does not succeed in its efforts to side step Congress and impose its anti-hunting agenda through the judicial system,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

In granting NSSF’s motion to intervene in the case the court acknowledged that the EPA could not adequately represent the business interests of NSSF’s members. The court also rejected the CBD’s efforts, in opposing the NSSF motion, to inappropriately limit NSSF participation in the case.

This is the case where Project Gutpile is one of the plaintiffs. Project Gutpile is a “hunter’s organization” composed of four members.

Project Gutpile?

The following is the press release sent out yesterday by the Center for Biological Diversity, PEER, and a group called Project Gutpile announcing their lawsuit against the EPA for not banning traditional lead ammunition and lead fishing sinkers:

Lawsuit Filed Over EPA Refusal to Address Lead Poisoning of Wildlife

Suit Seeks to Prevent Annual Deaths of Millions of Wild Birds, Wildlife From
Toxic Lead in Ammunition, Fishing Gear

WASHINGTON— Conservation and hunting groups today sued the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to regulate toxic lead that frequently poisons and kills eagles, swans, cranes, loons, endangered California condors and other wildlife throughout the country. The EPA recently denied a formal petition to ban lead in fishing tackle and hunting ammunition despite long-established science on the dangers of lead poisoning in the wild, which kills millions of birds each year and also endangers public health.

“The EPA has the ability to protect America’s wildlife from ongoing preventable lead poisoning, but continues to shirk its responsibility,” said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The EPA’s failure to act is astonishing given the mountain of scientific evidence about the dangers of lead to wildlife. There are already safe and available alternatives to lead products for hunting and fishing, and the EPA can phase in a changeover to nontoxic materials, so there’s no reason to perpetuate the epidemic of lead poisoning of wildlife.”

In August, a coalition of groups formally petitioned the EPA to ban lead in bullets and shot for hunting and in fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The petition referenced nearly 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers illustrating the widespread dangers of lead poisoning to scavengers that eat lead ammunition fragments in carcasses, and to waterfowl that ingest spent lead shot or lost lead fishing sinkers. The groups filing the lawsuit today are the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Project Gutpile, a hunters’ organization. Since the original petition was filed, more than 70 organizations in 27 states have voiced support for the lead ban, including those representing veterinarians, birders, hunters, zoologists, scientists, American Indian groups, physicians and public employees.

“Having hunted in California for 20 years I have seen firsthand lead poisoning impacts to wildlife from toxicity through lead ammunition,” said Anthony Prieto, a hunter and cofounder of Project Gutpile, a hunters’ group that provides educational resources for lead-free hunters and anglers. “Although many more sportsmen are now getting the lead out, the EPA must take action to ensure we have a truly lead-free environment. It’s time to make a change to non-lead for ourselves and for future generations to enjoy hunting and fishing with a conscience.”

“Over the past several decades Americans chose to get toxic lead out of our gasoline, paint, water pipes and other sources that were poisoning people. Now it’s time to remove unnecessary lead from hunting and fishing sports that is needlessly poisoning our fish and wildlife,” said Karen Schambach of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “Today’s action is a step to safeguard wildlife and reduce human health risks posed by lead.”

The EPA denied the portion of the petition dealing with regulation of lead ammunition based on an incorrect claim that the agency lacks the authority to regulate toxic lead in ammunition. The EPA asserted that shells and cartridges are excluded from the definition of “chemical substances” in the Act. That claim is contradicted by the legislative history of the Toxic Substances Control Act, which provides clear and specific authority to regulate hazardous chemical components of ammunition such as lead. Earlier this month the EPA also issued a final determination denying the portion of the petition on fishing sinkers, even though the agency itself had proposed banning certain lead fishing weights in 1994.

“The EPA has known for years it has the authority to regulate lead,” said Miller. “Lead shot was eliminated in 1991 by federal regulation to address widespread lead poisoning of ducks and secondary poisoning of bald eagles. And in 1994, the EPA even proposed banning lead fishing weights that were being eaten by waterfowl.”

Hunters and anglers in states that have restricted or banned lead shotgun ammunition or lead fishing gear have already made successful transitions to nontoxic alternatives, and fishing and hunting in those areas remains active. Alternatives continue to be developed, including the U.S. military’s transition toward bullets made of non-lead materials.

“This is clearly not an anti-hunting initiative, it is about using less toxic materials for the sake of wildlife and our human health,” said Prieto. “When I hunt, I want to make sure I kill only my target animal, and I want to use the least toxic ammunition possible since I will be feeding the game to my family.”

For more information, read about the Center’s Get the Lead Out campaign.
Read Frequently Asked Questions about the lead ban petition.
View photo images and video of wildlife poisoned by lead ammunition and sinkers.

The Center for Biological Diversity ( is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 315,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Project Gutpile is an educational organization comprised of hunters that provides resources for lead-free hunters and anglers. Project Gutpile has been promoting non-lead ammunition and raising lead awareness in the hunting community since 2002.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a 10,000 member national alliance of local, state and federal resource professionals working to protect the environment. PEER members include government scientists, land managers, environmental law enforcement agents, field specialists, and other resource professionals committed to responsible management of America’s public resources.

What the hell kind of name for a responsible hunting group is Project Gutpile? It sounds like the Brady Campaign’s friend American Shooters and Hunters Association which had no more to do with gun rights than the man in the moon.

The lawsuit that they say they have filed can’t be found on the U.S. Courts’s electronic file system as of yet. When it is up, I will post a copy of the complaint.