By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Sure to again ignite a firestorm of controversy, the Center for Biological Diversity -- along with 99 other groups in 35 states -- has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead in hunting ammunition.

Submitting a petition containing 107 pages -- and bearing a photo on the front of a bald eagle suffering from lead poisoning -- the groups are pushing to "protect public health and prevent the widespread poisoning of eagles, California condors and other wildlife."

The petition claims as many as 20 million birds die each year from lead poisoning after consuming lead shot and bullet fragments left from hunting.

The latest petition is the second filed by CBD, the first turned aside by EPA in 2010.

That petition sought a review for use of lead in bullets, shotgun pellets and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

It took less than 30 days for EPA to turn aside the request to ban lead use in ammunition, saying it didn't have -- and wasn't requesting -- authority to issue a ban.

It put the request for banning lead in fishing sinkers up for public comment.

Nearly 7,000 comments -- most of them dealing with the issue of lead in ammunition -- were filed in connection with the fishing sinker question.

The EPA denied the request in November 2010, saying there wasn't sufficient justification for the ban.

"This petition is clearly not an attempt to regulate ammunition or firearms, but rather the toxic components of lead ammunition for which non-lead and nontoxic or less toxic alternatives have become widely available," the latest document states.

Instead, the group is asking EPA to initiate rules to protect wildlife from the risk of injury from lead.

"This current petition is brought by a different and much larger group of petitioners." it continues. "The petition introduces significant new information regarding the toxic effects of lead ammunition on wildlife, the toxic effects of lead on human health, the availability and performance of alternatives to lead ammunition and the effectiveness of lead ammunition regulations."

The EPA hasn't taken any action yet on the latest petition.