The purposes of [the Endangered Species] Act are to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species, and to take steps as may be appropriate to achieve the purposes of the treaties and conventions set forth in subsection (a) of this section…”
“The Legislature further finds and declares that it is the policy of the state to conserve, protect, restore, and enhance any endangered species or any threatened species and its habitat and that it is the intent of the Legislature, consistent with conserving the species, to acquire lands for habitat for these species…”
– California Fish & Game Code Section 2052, a section within The California Endangered Species Act
The regulatory framework at both the federal and state level, provides environmental organizations the foundation for challenging the use of traditional ammunition consisting of lead components. One of the most important factors regarding environmental regulations involving threatened or endangered species, at either the federal or the state level, is habitat. Habitat regulations have a direct impact on land acquisitions, regulations, land use and management.
Restrictions on public and/or private land use, based upon potential impacts to threatened or endangered species, can significantly limit or preclude human activity. The activities are not necessarily limited to commercially consumptive uses, and can seriously impact recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking and, of course, hunting or recreational shooting on or around protected habitat.
TLand designated as critical habitat for any listed species may be set aside, eliminating human activity outside of scientific research. Unfortunately, a number of listed species frequently occupy lands outside specifically designated critical habitat. Accordingly, endangered or threatened species are used as justification for implementing onerous restrictions on tracts of public and private lands outside designated habitat.
Environmental activists also use the endangered or threatened designation of apex predators (i.e. top of the food chain predators) to influence control over vast tracts of land. The large territorial requirements of such predators as wolves and bears significantly impact both commercial and recreational activities, eventually making those activities too costly or burdensome to continue.
By implementing the sustainability theory, inherently embedded in the environmentalist’s North American Model, hunting is adversely impacted by the listing of large predators pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under this model, large predators have a superior claim on such common game species as deer, elk and moose. Additional increases in the already large predator populations require game managers to dedicate more of each season’s allowable harvest of huntable game for consumption by listed predators. This results in the reduction of available game for hunting management quotas, and can lead to decreased economic activity from hunting.
Environmental activists also use threatened or endangered species to influence and change regulations, land use and management practices. Environmental activists involved in the California Condor Recovery Program are well aware that the introduction of a listed species in close proximity to tracts of land capable of being developed, or used for commercial and hunting activities, can restrict land use and management, while also affecting the value of the land. In a number of cases, the listed species is the catalyst for use restrictions, condemnation of land or even acquisition by the very same environmental activists seeking concessions. For example, the Tejon Ranch and the newly formed Tejon Ranch Conservancy’s use of the California condor elucidates this questionable interplay.
Understanding critical habitat requirements and restrictions of listed or candidate species under the ESA enables hunters and recreational shooters to become more adept at countering overly restrictive or prohibitive regulations intended to restrict hunting and recreational shooting sports. Further, understanding that economic arguments are ineffective when the designation of critical habitat for a species is at stake, allows stakeholders to be more effective when lobbying to defend hunting and shooting sports.
Hunt for Truth is dedicated to investigating and producing objective evidence regarding the potential impacts of the use of lead ammunition on both listed and candidate species under the ESA. In those cases where the research is faulty, and objective scientific evidence of a causal link between lead ammunition and harm to species is lacking, Hunt for Truth will present the truth to legislators, regulators and the public at large in order to facilitate a more comprehensive debate.