You’d think it would be a no-brainer but sadly hunters are resistant to a lead-bullet ban. Over a hundred organizations have again petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead in hunting – a move opposed by many hunting groups. At issue is that millions of birds each year end up eating the lead and dying.
In California, where there is already a ban to protect released California Condors, the Ventana Wildlife Society is giving away non-lead ammunition with the hope that it will encourage hunters to follow the law.
If hunters are such stellar conservationists, as they exhaustively remind us every time we post something like this, then why do they continue to put three tons of lead into the environment every single year?
Are there un-biased scientific studies irreputably linking lead toxicity in birds to hunting bullets?
Most studies I have been privy to reading have been funded by and unfortunately biased by organizations bent on pushing this legislation. The lack of un-biased scientific study on the matter is the only reason these flawed efforts have a shred of credibility.
Anecdotal evidence on my part hunting white tailed deer, coyotes, and squirrels with rifle bullets is that 99 times out of 100 the bullet passes through the animal and penetrates soil or tree behind it. Buried within the soil or imbedded in a tree I can’t see where a bird could access it save for perhaps a woodpecker. Why would a woodpecker peck lead when woodpeckers would want wood? < Poetic license
Out of the 10 or so deer I have killed (while hunting and not driving) I have recovered all 10 of them. One had the lead ball lodged between the skin and muscle of the shoulder on the opposite side from which I shot him. That was also with a patched round-ball shot through a hand-made muzzleloader too. I suspect that played a role in the bullet not exiting. The deer did not even make it out of sight before expiring.
I can't speak for un-ethical or unscrupulous behaviors but if you hunt ethically as I do there will be no lead available for birds to injest.
Since, I think, the mid 1980's waterfowlers have been required to use USFWS approved non-toxic shot. That has been purported to have really helped. But shot that a dabbling duck or goose may injest in the specific environments in which they would come into contact with it are markedly different than those in which a carrion eater would come in contact with a lead bullet.
Plus lead is present within the environment naturally. You have probably drank water that flowed through pipes held together with lead solder as well.
@SmashDN (if that is your real name): From the linked article “nearly 500 scientific papers have documented the dangers to wildlife from lead exposure.” Somehow methinks that these are not all “biased.”
SmashDN suspiciously sounds like someone whose income is based on making lead bullets.
As a birder and hunting enthusiast, I think this post makes an unfair characterization of all hunters as pseudo-conservationists.
Birders don’t like to be viewed as nerdy gawkers or free-loaders soaking in the benefits of conservation efforts supported by the purchase of guns, ammo, and license fees as some hunters are quick to point out. As a member of both communities, I despise the superficial characterizations that both groups are often labeled.
I’d like to mention that there are no hunting organizations mentioned in the linked article or a similar NYTimes.com article. The only opposition “group” mentioned is representative of the firearms industry and another is a politician, neither of which represent all hunters. The NRA is also opposed (big surprise), but they don’t represent the voice of all hunters either. And its important to remember that not all hunters currently use lead shot. Waterfowl hunters have been required to use non-lead ammunition since the early 1990’s and archery hunters use non-lead arrows.
The presence of manufactured lead in the environment (from decades of hunting and angling with said products) is a problem. The continued use of lead only makes it worse. I hope that the reduction or complete ban of lead based ammo and fishing tackle can be accomplished. This will only occur if conservationists of all kinds (birders, hunters, anglers, hikers, etc) stop pointing fingers, name calling, and questioning motives, and simply try harder to work together.
I’m all for pointing out bad apples, but no quantity of bad apples should be used to evaluate the whole lot.
@Adam: Not all hunters use lead or oppose lead hunting bans. But where are the leading hunting organizations in this fight? I don’t see anything from them.
@Corey: You’re right, there are no leading hunting organizations stepping forward to support this issue. One would think that Ducks Unlimited would at least be the most supportive since lead shot has been federally banned from waterfowl hunting for two decades. What do they have to lose?
But there are a lot of other groups missing too – National Audubon, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, National Resource Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, etc. Where’s everyone else that could/should be supporting this effort?
You can view the full list of 100 petitioners at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/get_the_lead_out/pdfs/TSCA_ammo_petition_3-13-12.pdf