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Lawrence G. Keane: Hunters are the original conservationists

October 10, 2018

Jan Mrachek’s recent letter excoriating traditional ammunition demonstrates an unwillingness to accept the most fundamental facts of wildlife conservation. Mrachek wants to blame traditional ammunition for posing dangers to bald eagles, but eagle populations are healthier than ever. That’s in large part to hunters.

In fact, Minnesota has more bald eagles than any other of the lower 48 states. They’re so populous, the state’s Department of Natural Resources stopped conducting population surveys. Today, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials estimate there are 15,000 nesting pairs of bald eagle across the lower 48 states. That’s due in large part to the original conservationists — hunters. More than $12 billion dollars has been paid through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax supported by the sale of firearms and ammunition since 1937. Recovery efforts, supported by firearms and ammunition sales, allowed federal authorities to take bald eagles off the endangered species list in 1995 and threatened species list in 2007.

Hunters recognize many times these calls to ban traditional ammunition are really meant to limit hunting by mandating more expensive alternative ammunition. Hunters should be allowed to choose ammunition that meets their needs. Our industry responds to consumer demand. Mandating the use of expensive and less available alternative ammunition is harmful to wildlife conservation funding to the detriment of eagles soaring in Minnesota’s skies.

Lawrence G. Keane, Senior VP and General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation

Editor’s note: NSSF is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition and related industries.

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