Lawrence G. Keane: Article wrongly blames ammo, hunters as eagles’ biggest threats
The Steamboat Pilot & Today’s recent article “Flourishing or floundering?” about eagle recovery and the use of traditional ammunition would have readers believing that hunting is the single biggest threat to eagle recovery. The truth is hunters have been on the leading edge of bringing eagles back to Colorado and the rest of the United States.
More than $12 billion dollars has been paid through the Pittman-Robertson excise tax supported by the sale of firearms and ammunition products since 1937. The recovery efforts supported by this revenue have allowed federal authorities to take bald eagles off the endangered species list in 1995 and threatened species list in 2007.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states, a population growth of more than 12 percent each year. Colorado wildlife officials estimate there more than 125 nesting pairs, more than double the statewide population less than a decade before.
The article wrongly points to hunters’ use of traditional ammunition as the greatest threat to eagles and discusses only sick eagles in rehabilitation centers. It’s impossible to draw conclusions about any population by only examining those that are sick. In terms of an actual impact on the broader population, Colorado wildlife officials state there is lack of credible evidence that traditional ammunition poses a danger.
The article further misleads the reader by failing to accurately report that President Barack Obama administration’s last-minute traditional ammunition ban, which was never implemented, was investigated by Congress and found to be politically motivated and that it purposefully circumvented the normal process to avoid scientific input.
The article also fails to mention other threats to eagles, including habitat loss, environmental pollution and other hazards that threaten eagle recovery.
We all want to ensure healthy eagle populations. Blaming hunters and their ammunition is unneeded and potentially detrimental to ensuring we continue to see sustainable eagle populations soaring in our skies.
Lawrence G. Keane
National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president and general counsel
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