- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The wealthiest animal rights organization in the country, the Humane Society of the United States, is again asking for a nationwide ban on lead-shot ammunition.

It says the North Dakota Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have preliminary findings that show you will end up with higher levels of lead in your blood if you eat wildlife killed with “lead bullets” than with other types of ammo.

Please, no laughing just yet. Wait until the end because there’s good and bad news in all of this.

The statement by the HSUS - which should not be confused with neighborhood humane societies that take in homeless pets - says “lead bullets” are bad and that if you hunt, you should do so with non-lead bullets. The HSUS appears to be endorsing recreational hunting.

I know the group will fire off angry letters to deny this, but it says the North Dakota Department of Health recommends pregnant women and children under 6 avoid eating venison “killed by lead bullets.” Is the HSUS endorsing hunting by association? That’s a major turnaround for the animal worshippers.

And what’s this talk about lead bullets? Do they mean rifle ammo or shotgun slugs that have a lead projectile atop the shell casing?

The bad part here is the venom spewed by Andrew Page, the senior director of the Wildlife Abuse Campaign for HSUS.

“Extremist hunters have long contaminated watersheds and habitat, dooming animals to slow and painful deaths,” he said. “Now that hunters know their actions are directly putting themselves and other people at risk, there are no more excuses to use the ammo that just keeps on killing.”

A little education is called for Page and his ilk, who say you should avoid eating venison killed by lead bullets. Well, you can’t kill venison. You kill deer. Once the deer is down and you field-dress it, skin it, cut, wrap and label the meat, it becomes venison.

As part of its campaign against lead bullets, the HSUS claims one-fifth of the population of condors in Southern California died because the birds ingested lead shot. What a bunch of malarkey. And, of course, its archenemies, including pro-hunting organizations like the National Rifle Association, are “stubborn shooters” that advocate lead shot on the “flimsy grounds that it is ‘traditional’ and affordable.” The HSUS doesn’t need to remind hunters that nontoxic shot is available on the market and is used by millions of hunters. We know already.

We also know that if you knock a deer down, clean it properly and remove and discard any flesh parts and bones that were touched by those dreaded “lead bullets,” it is not possible to end up with high amounts of lead in your body.

Talk about trying to create mass hysteria.

- The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a nonprofit trade association for the firearm industry, says 40 million Americans are active in shooting sports and hunting. During their lifetimes, the total retail value of their activities will top $4 trillion, the foundation said.

“Every hunter and sport shooter is a tremendous asset to the firearm industry but also to the travel industry, conservation agencies, rural economies, even the agriculture industry since fee-hunting now provides critical revenue for farmers and ranchers,” NSSF president Doug Painter said.

The study looked at spending by hunters and shooters from age 16 to 75. Researchers found the average lifetime outlay for firearms, ammunition and other gear totals $20,219 a person. When purchases for licenses and lodging, food and fuel, magazines and meat processing, dues, contributions and other associated items are added, the average total rises to $109,568.

cLook for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Also check out Gene Mueller’s Inside Outside blog on www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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