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Ammunition ban harms hunters

We have a rich hunting tradition in Wisconsin; hunting plays an important part in our economy and our conservation efforts. We have nearly 900,000 hunters, which helps create over 34,000 Wisconsin jobs and an overall $4 billion ripple effect to o...

We have a rich hunting tradition in Wisconsin; hunting plays an important part in our economy and our conservation efforts. We have nearly 900,000 hunters, which helps create over 34,000 Wisconsin jobs and an overall $4 billion ripple effect to our state's economy.

That is why it was so maddening to hear that an outgoing Administration's final day, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe made one last attack on our nation's hunters by ordering a ban on the use of traditional ammunition in national parks, wildlife refuges and all other lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There was no opportunity for public comments, no working with Congress, just one last political statement before Mr. Ashe could turn out the lights. This executive overreach will hopefully be repealed on day one of the new leadership taking their posts.

I was even more dismayed by Mr. Ashe's overreach because so many of us in the hunting community have been working to increase the number of hunters in the field. This ban on traditional ammunition will only force hunters to purchase more expensive ammo, effectively pricing some hunters out of the sport. Perhaps Mr. Ashe did not consider that hunter spending also contributes to conservation funding, that an 11 percent excise tax known as the Pittman-Robertson Act was specifically lobbied for by hunters and passed in 1937 to provide money to manage and conserve our nation's wildlife. Fewer hunters would mean fewer dollars for conservation.

Nearly four million acres have been purchased with Pittman-Robertson Act funds since the program began nearly 80 years ago. Wisconsin in 2016 received nearly $21 million for conservation and hunter safety programming. This not only benefits wildlife both hunted and unhunted, but also humans as we enjoy our outdoor pursuits, from hunting or bird watching to wildlife photography. These hunter generated funds help with our quality of life even if you never touch a firearm or box of ammunition in your life - we all benefit.

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Moreover, there is little evidence to suggest that such a ban is needed. The outgoing director did not cite any data or scientific studies to support this ban. It's disappointing but it seems clear to me that this last-minute order was completely, politically motivated and based more on opposition to the sport of hunting than sound science.

Former Director Ashe had eight years to implement this order but waited until he was literally walking out the door. I can only assume he did that because he knew what a bad order it was, unsupported by real evidence and detrimental to the pastime that millions of Americans love. I am hopeful the new administration will swiftly repeal this executive overreach.

Editor's note: President Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reversed the ban on the use of lead ammunition on his first day in office last month.

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