Interior Secretary celebrates anniversary of refuge system, just days after axing lead ban

Zinke will have plenty of opportunities to support wildlife refuges, and we hope that he makes good use of every one.

Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
The Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is one of California's most important places for birds. Photo: Andrea Jones

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Ryan Zinke celebrated the 114-year anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System, one of the great achievements of our federal government, and a lasting promise to preserve this country's natural treasures. The celebration, however, comes just days after Zinke reversed a ban on lead ammunition that would protect wildlife and humans from a deadly toxin.

Zinke stated: ”Many of America’s beloved wildlife species depend on national wildlife refuges for their survival. And refuges provide a range of vital ecosystem services, including storm buffering and flood control, air and water purification, and the maintenance of robust populations of native plants and animals.”

These are statements with which Audubon strongly agrees. But, unfortunately, these words are harder to stomach following the lead ammunition order.

Lead ammunition unnecessarily poses grave risks to birds, other wildlife, and people. In California, we are already transitioning away from lead ammunition due to AB 711, passed in 2014. It makes good sense to ban lead nationwide and Secretary Zinke failed his first test of leadership in repealing the national lead ban.

Secretary Zinke will have many more opportunities to live up to his words. National wildlife refuges need water, staffing, and funding in order to provide ecological services and protect native animals and plants. Audubon hopes he will fight for those values in the upcoming budget battles and demonstrate real leadership going forward. 

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