CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is in settlement negotiations with activist organizations over a lawsuit regarding the use of traditional ammunition and lead on more than 3 million acres of federal land, according to a group of Republican U.S. Senators.
That group has introduced a bill that would prohibit the FWS, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), from banning the use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle on public lands, unless the best available science and state wildlife and fish agencies support the move.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who is a ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is one of the members of that group of senators.
“West Virginia is home to many proud sportsmen who utilize our federal lands for a variety of outdoor recreational activities. We should be taking steps to increase their access, not decrease it,” Capito said in a press release Tuesday. “Those in West Virginia who utilize our federal lands and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities they create can be assured that I will always work to improve their accessibility, and make sure that FWS is held accountable.”
The bill comes not long after the FWS posted a new rule that expanded access to hunting and fishing at certain wildlife refuges across the county, while also prohibiting the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle.
The rule mentions that the West Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DNR) expressed support for the increased access through the rule, with a focus on Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, but expressed concern about the requirements to use non-lead ammunition under consideration for Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and that as a result of the DNR’s comments, the FWS withdrew all proposed changes.
The rule also states that:
Comment (17): Many commenters expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the Service creating non-lead ammunition and tackle requirements through our regulations, specifically under the Second Amendment and under the Major Questions Doctrine. Those questioning non-lead requirements under the Second Amendment primarily appealed to the amendment itself, but a few commenters also pointed to the recent U.S. Supreme Court case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen (597 U.S. __ (2022), unpublished), decided on June 23, 2022. As for those questioning non-lead requirements under the Major Questions Doctrine, few commenters explicitly referred to the Major Questions Doctrine, but all of the comments appealed to the recent U.S. Supreme Court case of West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (597 U.S. __ (2022), unpublished), decided on June 30, 2022.Federal Regulations document FWS-HQ-NWRS-2022-0055-16104
The FWS wrote that it did not make any changes to the rule as a result of those comments, saying it believes the banning of traditional ammunition and tackle “cannot reasonably raise the Major Questions Doctrine, and even if such a regulation could be considered a major question a Federal court would then not find the Service to be acting beyond its authority as intentionally granted by Congress”; and would not limit the ownership, possession, or use of any firearm but only the possession and use of a certain type of ammunition. The FWS concluded it does not believe that a ban on lead ammunition and tackle is in violation of either Supreme Court decision.
Click here to read the full FWS rule.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Steve Danine (R-MT). Along with Sen. Capito, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Todd Young (R-IN), co-sponsored.