WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency denied on Thursday a petition by several environmental groups to ban lead in fishing tackle, two months after rejecting the groups’ attempt to ban it in hunting ammunition.

The EPA said that the petition did not demonstrate that a ban on lead was necessary to protect against unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act.

In a letter to the American Bird Conservancy, one of the groups that filed the petition, EPA Assistant Administrator Stephen A. Owens said that a number of steps are being taken to address the concerns of lead in fishing tackle.

Among them: limitations of lead in fishing gear on some federal lands; bans or restrictions on the state level; and federal and state outreach and education efforts.

“The emergence of these programs calls into question whether the broad rulemaking requested in your petition would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach,” Owens wrote to the conservancy’s director of conservation advocacy, Michael Fry.

The groups had argued that lead from spent hunting ammunition and lost lead fishing gear causes the deaths of 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals a year by lead poisoning.

Fry assailed the decision, suggesting the reason for the decision was political.