WASHINGTON – A wide-ranging bill to give hunters and fishermen more access to public lands stalled in the Senate Monday after Republicans said it spends too much money.

Republicans supported opening lands for outdoorsmen and many other provisions in the bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, but GOP senators blocked the legislation on principle Monday evening in a mostly party-line procedural vote after Senate Budget Committee’s top Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, objected to spending on conservation programs included in the bill.

“Along with 90 million sportsmen and women, I’m disappointed that Republicans and Democrats couldn’t work together today to pass this bipartisan bill,” Tester said in a statement Monday night. “Protecting our outdoor traditions and strengthening our outdoor economy shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This bill will create jobs and strengthen our small businesses, and I will continue pressing to get it through the Senate on behalf of every sportsman and woman around the country.”

The Sportsmen’s Act would increase land access and allow hunters to bring home as trophies 41 polar bears killed in Canada before the government started protecting polar bears as a threatened species. The legislation would also exclude ammunition and tackle from federal environmental laws that regulate lead, allow bow hunters to cross federal land where hunting isn’t allowed, encourage federal land agencies to help states maintain shooting ranges, boost fish populations and protect animal habitat.

Sessions said he supported the overall bill but objected to spending on conservation programs that he said violated budget rules. Democrats argued that the bill also raised money for those provisions.

The bill also faced some objections from environmental groups over the polar bear imports and exclusions from lead standards.

The lead provision threatens public health and the measures “could set back wildlife conservation efforts,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, while acknowledging she supported other provisions in the bill. Boxer was the only Democrat to vote against moving the bill forward Monday.

Ammunition and tackle that contain lead are now unregulated under federal toxic substance laws, and the EPA has so far declined to regulate them. The bill would make it law that the Environmental Protection Agency could not regulate ammunition and tackle, leaving those decisions to states. Environmental groups opposing the exemption say that birds on land and water are killed by lead poisoning after eating the spent ammunition and fishing tackle.

The polar bear provision would allow the hunters – two from Tester’s home state of Montana who killed polar bears in Canada just before a 2008 ban on polar bear trophy imports took effect – to bring the bears’ bodies across the border. The hunters involved were not able to bring the trophies home before the Fish and Wildlife Service listed them as a threatened species.

Some animal welfare groups, including of the Humane Society of the United States, say that allowing the polar bears bodies across the border could set a bad precedent and embolden other hunters to try and circumvent threatened or endangered species laws.

More from missoulian.com

(23) comments


I'm not so sure I'd want to eat ptarmigan stew mmade from a bird killed with lead shot.

But maybe you would. Bon apetit. Enjoy.


As long as you didn't swallow any shot, you'd be fine - and maybe even if you did eat a pellet, it would probably pass through you, as I doubt that humans can digest lead.


THINK, Roger --- human stomach acids would dissolve PART of a pellet --- no, not all of it --- contributing to lead poisonng.

Why do you think health authorities say lead-based paints are a no-no in children's nurseries where kids might chew on such surfaces?



I had a really tough time deciding whether to vote for this closet Republican. Jon Tester has done NOTHING for his party and usually votes with the Repugs in the Senate. What I can't really stand about politicians like him is that he doesn't have the integrity to vote as a democrat, he just wants to get re-elected so he sides with whatever party that will get him enough votes. He's a politican not a stateman. But then , we really didn't have much of a choice.

sofaking tired of the GOP
sofaking tired of the GOP

He introduced a bill to overturn the insane Citizens United case, and let us hunt wolves again, more the Rehberg did in decades.


Why doesn't the article title read something more indicative of the reality, for instance... "GOP blocks Tester bill that spend too much money" or maybe "Boxer and the GOP block Tester bill that could set back wildlife conservation efforts and spends too much money"? No, instead they want it to be the GOP obstructionism. Wake up out there, when it time to cut spending, don't shoot those that are trying to cinch things up a couple of knots.

Then Boneshackler comes out with his adolescent whine for the day with his typical "But we ALWAYS seem to find enough money to ...." Instead of whining about it, be glad they're starting to be fiscally responsible and push for deeper cuts in other areas.

From what I have read, there isn't really anything in this bill beneficial to the United States as a whole and I would have to side with both Boxer and the GOP and I will back up Boneshackler (w/o the whine), time to get out the black marker there too.

Matthew Koehler

It's pretty ridiculous and disingenuous for Senator Tester to claim he's speaking for 90 million "sportsmen" around the US. Sure, some aspects of this "Sportsmen" bill weren't all that bad; however, other provisions within the bill could potentially have serious negative consequences both in the short term and the long term.

One such example is the provision forever forbidding the EPA from ever regulating toxic lead in hunting ammo and fishing tackle. It is simply bad public policy for politicians like Tester to interfere with agencies protecting human and wildlife health. Just imagine if a few decades ago a politician would have passed a rider forbidding the EPA from regulating lead in paint. Or lead in gas. Or how about DDT?

While this article focuses mainly on the GOP opposition to the bill, it should be pointed out that Environmental Chairwoman Sen Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was also successful stopping this bill because of her opposition to the Lead Ammo provision.

Hopefully, now the "Sportsmen's Act" will finally be opened up to debate. Here's a press release from Monday, before the vote, that contains more info on the Lead-poisoning provisions in the "sportsmen's" bill.

200 Groups Object to Lead-poisoning Provision in Sportsmen's Bill:
Call on Senate to Allow Vote on Boxer Amendment

Copy of letter here:

WASHINGTON— More than 200 citizen groups are objecting to a provision in the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (Senate Bill 3525) that would create an exemption under federal toxics law to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from evaluating or regulating lead poisoning of wildlife and humans from hunting or fishing activities.

A wide array of public-interest organizations called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to allow debate on the lead-poisoning exemption. Such debate has never occurred in Congress despite the serious environmental and public-health problems caused by spent lead ammunition and lost lead fishing weights and the availability of nontoxic alternatives to lead. The organizations support an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to block the exemption and study the human-health and environmental effects of lead poisoning from lead in ammunition and fishing sinkers.

“It’s outrageous that the Senate can’t find 10 minutes to allow any debate before voting to prevent our federal environmental agency from regulating, or even evaluating, a deadly toxic substance that we know is killing bald eagles and other wildlife — a toxin that causes neurological damage to humans and hinders mental development in children,” said William Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are good reasons we got toxic lead out of gasoline and home paints. The irony of this bill, preventing any regulation of lead used in hunting ammunition or fishing weights, is that it will harm hunters and anglers.”

The Sportsmen’s Act, which could be voted on as early as today, would create an exemption under the Toxic Substances Control Act to block the EPA from ever regulating toxic lead used in hunting ammunition and fishing sinkers or even evaluating the impacts of lead from these sources. The bill also contains an exemption that would allow imports of threatened polar bear parts from Canada despite the Endangered Species Act’s prohibition against such trade.

“Why would the Senate bow to the National Rifle Association’s anti-science views on lead poisoning and pass a special-interest legal exemption to promote further lead poisoning?” said Snape. “The amendment offered by Senator Boxer would actually establish a moratorium on any regulation of lead in ammunition or fishing sinkers until federal health and environment agencies prepare an objective study that all Americans could trust.”

Toxic lead entering the food chain from spent hunting ammunition and lost or discarded fishing sinkers poisons and kills bald eagles, endangered condors, loons, swans and more than 130 other species of wildlife. Hunters risk lead poisoning from ingesting lead fragments and residues in game shot with lead ammunition. Recent studies and scientific reports show elevated blood lead levels in hunters eating lead-infected meat, as well as dangerous lead contamination of venison donations to low-income food banks.

The Boxer amendment is reprinted below in its entirety.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Boxer Amendment to the Sportsmen’s Act:

SA 2902. Mrs. BOXER submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2875 proposed by Mr. REID (for Mr. TESTER) to the bill S. 3525, to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

Strike section 121 and insert the following:


(a) No Regulation of Ammunition or Fishing Tackle.--The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall not issue any proposed or final rule or guidance to regulate any chemical substance or mixture in ammunition or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.) during the period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and ending on the date of the publication of the study required by subsection (b).

(b) Study of Potential Human Health and Environmental Effects.—

(1) IN GENERAL.--Not later than December 31, 2014, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Secretary of the Interior shall jointly prepare and publish a study that describes the potential threats to human health (including to pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable populations) and to the environment from the use of—

(A) lead and toxic substances in ammunition and fishing tackle; and

(B) commercially available and less toxic alternatives to lead and toxic substances in ammunition and fishing tackle.

(2) USE.--The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall use, as appropriate, the findings of the report required by paragraph (1) when considering any potential future decision related to a chemical substance or mixture when the substance or mixture is used in ammunition or fishing tackle.


America is bankrupt. We can't afford to do anymore feel good conservation easement buys. IF the landowner wants to conserve his property, let him. If he wants to sell hunting rights on his private property, let him. Don't make the rest of us pay for not developing his land. Get back on a solvent footing, then relook at all these feel good causes that are bankrupting America. Support small businesses, farms, ranches, before China comes and enforces the liens against our country. And keep those dead polar bears out of here. How sick. Why would you kill these bears? They're struggling to survive.


Sukey - polar bears are doing fine - don't believe everything the alarmists claim - they don't care about facts.

Polar Bear populations have tripled.

Alaska has blown away all records for sea ice this winter. Four of the five iciest years around Alaska have been since 2007. Look for the MSM to respond by publishing stories about drowning Polar Bears who can’t find any ice.
University of Illinois – Cryosphere Today

Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School says, “To list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability. In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions. Assuming these restrictions remain, the most appropriate forecast is to assume that the upward trend would continue for a few years, then level off.

“These studies are meant to inform the US Fish and Wildlife Service about listing the polar bear as endangered. After careful examination, my co-authors and I were unable to find any references to works providing evidence that the forecasting methods used in the reports had been previously validated. In essence, they give no scientific basis for deciding one way or the other about the polar bear.”
If the polar bear is the 650-kilogram canary in the climate change coal mine, why are its numbers INCREASING?

The latest government survey of polar bears roaming the vast Arctic expanses of northern Quebec, Labrador and southern Baffin Island show the population of polar bears has jumped to 2,100 animals from around 800 in the mid-1980s.


You are correct Roger, they are doing fine. It is a real tragedy that the owners of the 41 bear hides can't bring them home. They paid good money, hired a guide and provided other jobs to get them. The bears are DEAD, respect them and let other people enjoy seeing a life sized mount. The anti's just don't get it. If they are not hunted by paying hunters, the locals will kill them and leave them lay and that's a real shame. I don't trust Tester to do anything that will benefit hunters, he dances to obama's tune and will to the end.


Big game populations require secure habitat, habitat, and more secure habitat. Some fellow sportsmen are so shortsighted when they think that more roads mean better hunting. As a Montanan, I was shocked on a recent trip to Utah when I saw ATV's actually chasing mule deer because everything is roaded and motorized. Hunters need better access to public lands, not better motorized access.


Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.......................................thats so funny

Comment deleted.

Take what richturd? You never did answer how many traps you have pulled and destroyed in Montana to save "innocent wildlife?" ........say again? Good thing the GOP is apparently on your side, or do you have a side? My guess is you haven't the ambition to make it to a booth to vote let alone sniff out a legal trap to destroy. ;-) Correct me if I am wrong.

Stan Reck
Stan Reck

Vermin hunters? You mean like rats and gophers? Speak up Richard, inquiring minds want to know.


Jeff Sessions, and Senator Tester would never stoop to saying this but I will, is the true example of a Southern backwards conservative who once again used the filibuster rule to "teach" that upstart who dared beat his boy Denny a lesson. Tester has to run again in 5 years and they will target him until then if they can like they do every other Democrat. Problem is people see now how stupid ( at least a majority do) see how stupid thinking like Session's is..and the Grand Obstructionist Party for what they are...obstructionists. Rather than helping them in the next election, it will hurt them. It is what happened in the last election and fortunately people like Session's and McConnel and their idiot followers are to stupid to see that...so keep it up boys!!! Your only cutting your own throat...you just alienated most hunters....and fisherman...


I disagree. As an avid hunter who is increasing in age the bill did not pass the smell test. The conservation set-aside more than offset the supposed increase in hunting access.


"The conservation set-aside more than offset the supposed increase in hunting access".....That seems to be one of many possible issues, but hey, it looked good on paper (as long as you only read the first page)


onemontana, the bill was supported by the NRA, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and 50 other national sportsmen organizations. How does that not pass the smell test?


As usual no concern for what something might cost. Remember the fiscal cliff? The one Congress keeps telling us they're planning to deal with, real soon? ANY piece of legislation that isn't completely necessary needs to be vetted for how it will impact the budget. If working SERIOUSLY to solve the problem means generating more revenue and, just as importantly, cutting fat and unnecessary programs from the budget entirely, people need to thank - rather than simply deride - any member of Congress willing to jump up and say, "Whoa! Is this really necessary, and can we afford it right now?" needs to be thanked rather than verbally assaulted, regardless of what people think his or her ulterior motives might be. Otherwise we go over the cliff clinging to our biases and our special issues.


But we ALWAYS seem to find enough money to support our preferred dictators, financing terrorists...uh...'freedom fighters', 800 military bases, two occupations, a covert war on Northern Africa, $Trillions to bail out the global banking cartels, corporate welfare, the most gigantic War Department in the history of the world, and platinum-plated healthcare and pensions for Congress. Meanwhile, our domestic infrastructure collapses every time that a major natural weather event occurs.

hg fisher

Wrong again, mm. Could you just once in your life show a little common sense and objectivity instead of always toeing the liberal party line without wavering? Not everything is politically revenge-motivated. There are some good things in this bill, but a whole lot of bad, too. And it's extremely wasteful and costly and shouldn't even be considered as is in such a horrible economy. But, as usual, the Missoulian deceives its readers with the headline. I think most people are finally learning to dig a little deeper for the real truth when they see these biased headlines.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.