National Park Service Gets the Lead Out!

WASHINGTON ? National Park Service visitors and wildlife have something to cheer about today with the agency?s stepped-up efforts to reduce lead in national park environments.

?Our goal is to eliminate the use of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle in parks by the end of 2010,? said Acting National Park Service Director Dan Wenk. ?We want to take a leadership role in removing lead from the environment.?

The new lead reduction efforts also include changes in NPS activities, such as culling operations or the dispatching of wounded or sick animals. Rangers and resource managers will use non-lead ammunition to prevent environmental contamination as well as lead poisoning of scavenger species who may eventually feed upon the carcass. Non-toxic substitutes for lead made in the United States are now widely available including tungsten, copper, and steel.

The NPS will also develop educational materials to increase awareness about the consequences of lead exposure and the benefits of using lead-free ammunition and fishing tackle.

Lead is an environmental contaminant affecting many areas of the world, including our national parks. Lead is banned in gasoline, children?s toys, and paint because of its effects on human health. In the United States, there is an accelerating trend to expand efforts to reduce lead contamination associated with firearms and hunting. California and Arizona have recently implemented mandatory and voluntary bans, respectively, on lead ammunition to facilitate California condor recovery. And Yellowstone National Park has had restrictions on lead fishing tackle for years to protect native species and their habitats.

Resource managers recognize that hunting and fishing play an important historical role in the complicated and intensive management of wildlife populations. Because of this history, these activities continue in some parks and, in some cases, even enhance the park?s primary purpose to preserve natural environments and native species. The new restrictions on lead will ensure environmentally safe practices are implemented to protect park visitors and lands.

Wenk adds, ?The reduction and eventual removal of lead on park service lands will benefit humans, wildlife, and ecosystems inside and outside park boundaries and continue our legacy of resource stewardship.?