The hunting lobby in the UK must look across the Atlantic at the power and influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and weep. While hunters in the UK are no doubt in exuberant mood to have such passionate support in the upper echelons of the coalition government (think eg Richard Benyon and Jim Paice), thankfully conservationists and the public here are on hand to protect wildlife and eg nullify the ill-conceived attempts to cull Buzzards to protect the profits of hunting estates. In the US though there is an almost religious belief in the right to kill wildlife, and the main cheerleader is of course the NRA – which as a recent report claimed receives huge amounts of money from its firearms industry ‘corporate partners’: “The vast majority of funds–74 percent–contributed to the NRA from “corporate partners” come from members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products.” [http://www.vpc.org/press/1104blood.htm]
Under the guise of ‘freedom’ (so it seems – what other objection could there be as alternatives are accurate, not expensive, and safe for non-targeted wildlife?) the NRA is dead set against replacing lead shot – which when ingested by birds causes fatality – with non-toxic alternatives. Now it appears they want to block the already staggering Environmental Protection Act from taking action to further protect wildlife and people from their little balls of environmental poison. If it were to happen here in the UK the media and the public would rightly denounce the equivalent UK lobby as eg corrupt, thoughtless, stupid, asinine, and incredibly selfish. There is far less outright criticism from birders and wildlife groups in the US of this firearm-obsessed organisation, but here’s hoping American conservationists temporarily remove the blinkers some of them seem to have when it comes to the barely existent link between hunting and conservation [protecting something so you can then kill it is not conservation, it's ranching] and put the NRA firmly in their place…
Press-release from the Center for Biological Diversity, 31 July 2012:
Just moments ago the National Rifle Association took legal action to block the EPA from protecting wildlife and people from being poisoned by lead hunting ammunition left in the wild.
Today’s legal action challenges the Center for Biological Diversity’s suit, filed last month with allies, to get the EPA to finally regulate toxic lead in hunting ammunition.
These outrageous attacks need to stop. Please make an emergency gift today and help us stand up to the NRA’s assault on wildlife.
As I’ve written to you over the past two weeks, millions of birds are needlessly poisoned every year by toxic lead ammo left in the wild, including bald eagles, swans and endangered California condors.
Under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA has the authority to stop this lead-poisoning epidemic with common-sense solutions — but the NRA is using its muscle to throw up roadblocks to any new safeguards.
The NRA is bound and determined to keep the EPA from doing its job in protecting the millions of birds who die every year after being painfully poisoned by lead bullet fragments.
That’s why we need your urgent support now with a gift to our Condor Defense Fund. Help defend the EPA’s ability to regulate this deadly toxin and ensure not one more condor, swan or bald eagle is poisoned by lead bullets.
The Center has been working since 2004 to end the preventable lead poisoning of birds and reduce health risks for people eating lead-shot game.
Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death for America’s ancient, critically endangered condors. Please make your gift today to stand up to the NRA and protect these extraordinary birds, along with other wildlife, threatened by lead poisoning.
We’ve faced this challenge before and know the NRA will stop at nothing to keep us from protecting endangered wildlife — so we’re in for a bare-knuckle fight.
Thank you for standing with us