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December 2012

Friday, December 07, 2012

Spread the Word: Time to Get the Lead Out

A new study by the National Academy of Science, commissioned by the Defense Department, this week revealed that toxic lead ammunition used on Army, Navy and Air Force firing ranges jeopardizes the health of military workers, potentially causing neurologic, cardiovascular, reproductive and other problems. As Matthew Hay Brown reported in the Baltimore Sun, Senators Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., have expressed concern about the report’s implications for workers at military installations with firing ranges, particularly women who may be pregnant or breastfeeding, and the potential impacts on children.

“They’re at risk,” Senator Cardin said. “This report shows that exposure to lead from firing ranges is a health hazard, and we can do a better job of protecting the public health.”

“Everyone makes everything complicated,” added Senator Boxer. “It’s not complicated. We want to protect our people from exposure to these dangerous toxins. And we will do everything in our power to ensure that our families are protected from toxins that harm the human body.”

Fb_wp_polar_bears jpgThis new evidence about the danger of lead ammunition comes at a time when Senate Democrats continue to push for final passage of S. 3525, the so-called “Sportsmen’s Act,” which would, among other things, tie the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency from considering future restrictions on lead ammunition or fishing tackle. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991, after biologists and conservationists estimated roughly two million ducks died each year from ingesting spent lead pellets. Duck hunters and goose hunters easily adapted by using non-toxic shot, which is readily available and about the same cost. More than 20 years later, with mounting evidence on the dangers of lead to the environment, endangered species, and human health, some lawmakers and hunting groups want to put their heads in the sand and block any scientific examination of the issue.

According to CQ Roll Call, Senators Boxer and Cardin are blocking a unanimous consent agreement to fast-track the bill, objecting to the lead shot provision. And Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., Scott Brown, R-Mass., and a dozen co-sponsors have filed an amendment to strip the provision in the bill to allow the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies. It’s a controversial bill with so many terrible provisions, and the Senate shouldn’t ram through this package behind closed doors during the lame-duck session.

As Senator Cardin said, “We want to make sure that we have the appropriate regulatory environment to protect the public health. Let the agencies have the authority that they need, and let’s be judged by best science, and let’s keep politics out of it.”

Exactly. Call your two Senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to block the Sportsmen’s Act, and share this Facebook graphic to help spread the word.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Senate Cracks Down on Animal Fighting Attendance

The U.S. Senate tonight passed, by voice vote, a major animal protection bill and a key priority for HSLF: S. 1947, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act. The bill would close a loophole in the federal animal fighting law and crack down on people who attend dogfights and cockfights, financing the cruelty with their admission fees and gambling wagers, and helping to conceal and protect animal fighters who blend into the crowds at the first sign of a law enforcement raid. The legislation would impose additional penalties for bringing a minor to an animal fight, and crack down on adults who expose children to this violence and blood-letting.

We are especially grateful to Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., who led the bipartisan effort to get this bill passed in the lame-duck session. Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and David Vitter, R-La., also played hugely significant roles in getting this bill over the finish line. We are now urging the House to take swift action, where an identical bill, H.R. 2492, sponsored by Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, has 228 co-sponsors (150 Democrats and 78 Republicans). The legislation had previously passed the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee in the form of an amendment to the Farm Bill, but since the Farm Bill has not been finalized, we are working to pass the animal fighting legislation on its own before year end.

AnimalfightingIt is illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at an animal fight, and a majority—29 states—consider it a felony. This federal legislation complements the state laws on the books, and gives the tools needed to both federal and state law enforcement agencies to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in animal fighting, including the multistate animal fighting networks that are often out of reach for a local sheriff or prosecutor.

Animal fighting is also closely associated with other criminal activities such as gangs, narcotics, illegal weapons possession, public corruption and various violent crimes. A three-year study by the Chicago Police Department found that 70 percent of animal offenders had also been arrested for other felonies, including domestic and aggravated battery, illegal drug trafficking and sex crimes. That’s undoubtedly one reason the bill has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and nearly 300 law enforcement agencies from across the country.

We must do everything we can to crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting in our communities, and support the work of law enforcement to root out these criminal enterprises. The Senate has brought us one step closer tonight to protecting animals from this vicious cruelty.

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