Thursday, August 3, 2023

Rebate Available for Eligible Hunters to Purchase Non-Lead Ammunition

bald eagles
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced DEC is seeking hunters to participate in a multi-year study of non-lead ammunition impacts on the State’s eagle conservation efforts. DEC is partnering with the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University, U.S. Geological Survey, and Conservation Science Global on the study to determine the reduction in bald and golden eagle deaths that can be achieved from increased use of non-lead ammunition for deer hunting.

Eagles can ingest lead bullet fragments when scavenging the remains left behind after a hunter field dresses a deer. While the bald eagle population is doing well in New York, research has shown that lead-related mortality has slowed population growth. The golden eagle population in the eastern U.S. is relatively stable, although vulnerable to a potential population decline due to lead poisoning. This study aims to determine whether this source of mortality can be reduced by increasing the proportion of hunters using non-lead ammunition.

To help recruit hunters to participate in the study, DEC’s research partners will be offering rebates of up to $60 for the purchase of certified non-lead ammunition and participation in pre- and post-hunt surveys. Administration of the rebates will be fulfilled by Conservation Science Global. Participation in the rebate program is voluntary and will be available to hunters issued a Deer Management Permit (DMP) in the following Wildlife Management Units (WMUs): 3H, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4W, and 6G. These WMUs were selected based on greater abundance of eagles and deer harvest success. Focusing eligibility to these areas will concentrate the impact of non-lead ammunition use, allowing for a greater ability to estimate the effects on eagle populations.

The first year of the study will be implemented during the 2023-24 hunting season. DEC expects to continue offering rebates during the 2024 and 2025 hunting seasons. For more information and where eligible hunters can participate, visit the Hunters for Eagle Conservation website.

This research was identified as a high priority in DEC’s report, “Minimizing Risks to Wildlife and People from Lead Hunting Ammunition.” Since the release of this report in April 2022, DEC and partners have taken several steps to implement recommendations in the plan towards minimizing the risks associated with lead ammunition for hunting. For more information, visit DEC’s website.

DEC photo

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

9 Responses

  1. David Gibson says:

    Congratulations to the collaborators. This is an important partnership with DEC and an incentive-based step forward – but only one step. Is the incentive large enough? We shall see. Given the documented toxic, lethal effect on our bald eagle and on other wildlife we all wish to protect, lead ammunition should be phased out entirely.

  2. Paul says:

    The number of hunters is decreasing, yet the impact on eagles of the lead they are using is increasing? This doesn’t compute… The number of people fishing is increasing. Many of them using lots of lead sinkers directly in waterways that are prime eagle habitat. Newts almost always next to the water. Are they sure they have this figured out!

    • Boreas says:

      Are big game hunters decreasing? Or the total harvest numbers? Knowing those numbers would be more relevant. Basically, the number of gut piles and unclaimed/unfound carcasses in eagle territory would be the critical factor – specially if eagle numbers are stable or increasing.

    • Mike says:

      Something doesnt add up in the research done by Conservation Science Global. They only test birds of prey for lead. The reality is its probably not from lead ammo. A far more accurate way of testing for lead would be turkey vultures who are doing just fine. Why aren’t other scavengers like coyotes and foxes tested for lead? I get the feeling that its easier to get research money for saving the eagles and if you can put more rules and regulations on hunters and firearms, why not?

  3. JohnL says:

    Agree with Rob. Not in favor of ammo band. Just an aside, but this article makes it look like the population of eagles is in decline because of lead poisoning. However, it’s, the rate of growth of the population that may be declining. Still growing, maybe not as fast. Huge difference, and wording it the way they do is a common tactic in articles like this.

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