'Full metal jacket' - copper covered - bullet example. Image credit:Sportsmens Guide.
A group of small 'environmental groups' that I never heard of before are upset that USEPA recently turned down a petition to ban the use of all lead bullets (the part at the end of the cartridge), nationwide. They seem to infer the Agency was swayed to refusing their petition by the NRA (see article in The Independent for background). Never mind that lead shot hasn't been used for waterfowl hunting for decades and that hunter's bullets are generally jacketed in copper (as shown above). My concern is mainly with the broader political implications of 'environmentalists' loudly lobbying for a lead bullet ban. Although perhaps only a tenth of the US citizenry actually hunts, sportsmen have successfully lobbied ten states to make hunting a Constitutionally protected right. Maybe for 'good reason', they'll be thinking, when they hear about unilateral attempts like this one to ban all lead-based ammo.
The last thing environmentalists need, faced with a "Tea Kettle" takeover of the US Congress, is to give truckloads of free political ammunition to the radical right - giving them added sway over political independents concerned about individual rights being taken away "by EPA." Let me spell this out in case this is not hitting the target for you.
EPA will implement greenhouse gas regulations based on the Endangerment Finding.
EPA would probably be charged with implementing any Cap & Trade regime that might be approved (hypothetically).
The above are pinch points for the radical right. Now, if you add the prospect of EPA unilaterally banning lead ammo at the bequest of what the media calls "environmentalists" - assuming there is a scientifically justifiable rationale, which is pretty unlikely - you have completely destroyed any chance of politically independent sportsmen voting for candidates who favor environmental regulation.
Risk management perspective.
The direct risk to carnivorous wildlife posed by eating bits of lead bullet in a carcass or gut pile (excluding lead shotgun pellets from this reasoning because the petitioners seem to do that) is trivial compared to the risk to all living things posed by greenhouse gases and mercury and lead from fossil fuel. After that, we face the risks of dead zones, over fishing, massive soil loss, and ten other risks of great magnitude.
The greatest threat to migratory birds of the Americas is habitat loss, especially in Mexico, and points south.
The wrong and the right way to go.
The Obama Administration has not pursued gun control at the Federal level. A proposed Federal ban on an entire category of ammunition will be perceived as gun control. Environmentalists desperately need to link arms with hunters and fishers. This is the worst possible thing to do at this moment.
If the science behind this idea really were there - showing the risk is geographically universal and significant - then the US Fish and Wildlife Service, working with state game and natural resource agencies can work out a solution, as can the Commerce and State Departments, working with Canadian and Mexican and other South American and Caribbean governments.
Additional posts about ammunition.
Eco Ammo(TM) by American Ammunition
What Would Darwin Do? Killing Goats So Others May Live
Lead Still Killing California Condors