THE NEW INTERIOR SECRETARY’S FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS? BRING BACK LEAD BULLETS FOR PUBLIC LANDS

As the internet freaked out over Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke riding a horse to his first day on the new job Thursday, environmental activists expressed outrage over one of his first actions: overturning a federal ban on hunting with lead ammunition in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3346, which repeals a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directive the Obama administration issued the day before President Donald Trump took office barring the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle in national parks and wildlife refuges. Zinke also signed an order to expand hunting, fishing and recreation access on federal lands.

“Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy,” Zinke said in a statement. “This package of secretarial orders will expand access for outdoor enthusiasts and also make sure the community’s voice is heard.

The former Montana congressman said his new orders will allow people outside of the “land-owning elite” to participate in outdoor recreation on public lands. Pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association claim lead-free bullets are more expensive and harder to obtain than their toxic counterparts.

But the Obama administration’s ban on lead ammunition was meant to protect wildlife from lead poisoning. As many as 20 million birds and other animals die of lead poisoning each year as a result of the nearly 100,000 tons of lead that hunters, fishers and other sportsmen use, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

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