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Ditching lead ammo? It's a long shot.

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Rockies Today

November 5 · Issue #29 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Ditching lead ammo? It's a long shot.
The Jackson Hole-based Teton Raptor Center’s rehabilitation clinic is all-too-familiar with lead toxicity, and encourages hunters to switch to lead-free ammunition. But, as WyoFile’s Angus M. Thuermer Jr. reports, “Getting shooters to switch from traditional to lead-free ammunition, venturing into the arsenal of America’s ‘well-regulated militia’ or making rules about that which 'shall not be infringed’ could prove to be a Sisyphean task.”
Bird group puts lead ammunition in the crosshairs Bird group puts lead ammunition in the crosshairs
Rescuers carried the once regal golden eagle, now a crippled figure, from Dubois to the Teton Raptor Center in Wilson on Nov. 8, 2018.
Something had slowed her rapid-fire reactions into lethargic, delayed responses. Her noble posture drooped. Once voracious, now she was barely eating. Her legs were weak, claws clenched, her survival full of doubt.
An X-ray scan revealed the cause of her hobbling malady: seven fragments of metal in her gastrointestinal tract.
Veterinarians believed she had eaten from the remains of a hunter-killed game animal, shot dead with a lead bullet that broke into small pieces upon impact. Now seven of those toxic fragments were attacking her brain, central nervous system and organs.
It’s a too-familiar scene at the Raptor Center. “We have patients that will so deeply pull on your heartstrings [because of] what they’re experiencing,” said Amy McCarthy, executive director of the center.
Bryan Bedrosian, research director at the Center, also has seen too many birds arrive in distress.
“Every time it’s saddening and frustrating,” he said. Sad because the birds are poisoned into seizures through no fault of their own. Frustrating, because “there’s such an easy effective solution.”
Lead-free ammunition.
Last year…
Lead kills Yellowstone’s original research eagle
More wildlife news:
As Colorado's moose population grows, so does hunting
Garfield County leaders join opposition to wolf proposal
Grizzly bears could block Montana road, logging project again
Invasive species act as 'little arsonist grasses'
Study: Alien grasses are making more frequent U.S. wildfires Study: Alien grasses are making more frequent U.S. wildfires
For much of the United States, invasive grass species are making wildfires more frequent, especially in fire-prone California, a new study finds.
Twelve non-native species act as “little arsonist grasses,” said study co-author Bethany Bradley, a University of Massachusetts professor of environmental conservation.
Wherever the common Mediterranean grass invades, including California’s southern desert, fires flare up three times more often. And cheatgrass , which covers about one-third of the Intermountain West, is a big-time fire promoter, Bradley said.
“I would not be surprised at all if invasive grasses are playing a role in the current fires but I don’t think we can attribute to them directly,” Bradley said.
University of Utah fire expert Phil Dennison, who wasn’t part of the study but says it makes sense, said, “In a lot of ways, California was ground zero for invasive grasses. Much of California’s native perennial grassland was replaced by Mediterranean annual grasses over a century ago. This study doesn’t look at invasive grasses in the areas that are burning in California, but invasive grasses are contributing to the fires there.”
Experts say the areas burning now in California are more shrubs and grasses than forests, despite what President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend.
“This is a global problem,” said University of Alberta fire expert Mike Flannigan, who wasn’t part of the study but said it makes sense. “I think with climate change and human assistance we are moving to a grass world. One region they should have mentioned is Hawaii where wildfires are increasing in large part due to invasive grasses.”
Invasive species are spreading more because of climate change as warmer weather moves into new areas, said study lead author Emily Fusco, also of the University of Massachusetts. 
Meanwhile…
We know wildfires are dangerous. But what about smoke? New study does a deep dive
The fall of coal mining in the Powder River Basin
In the second story in a two-part series, E&E News’s Benjamin Storrow reports that Wyoming leaders are quietly discussing how to change the state’s tax structure to rely less on coal.
There were pensions and pools. How a coal basin is falling There were pensions and pools. How a coal basin is falling
Bankrupt giants hand unwanted coal mines to unknown firms
More energy news:
For Colorado energy provider, the future of coal looks increasingly grim
Wyoming lawmakers seek middle ground between oil developers, mineral owners
To chagrin of solar advocates, Wyoming lawmakers consider utility overhauls
Save the snow: As Bridger Bowl goes solar, Montana grapples with renewable energy development
Tsilhqot’in First Nation opens B.C.’s largest solar farm
What else we're reading today
Merging Western science with Native knowledge to combat climate change
A shakeup on America's public lands
On Wyoming public lands, camping abuses become management headache
Conserving the world's buried wetlands: Bringing England's back from the dead
Has Utah’s inversion season arrived? Proof is in the pollution. Just look outside.
Backcountry.com faces boycotts, social media backlash over trademark lawsuits. But the company remains mum.
A not-so-brutal week for American journalism
Wyoming Legislature could discuss new protections for the press this winter
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812