Internationally hunters are placing lead poisoning through bullets and cartridgs under scrutiny to take action before legislation is promulgated that may prejudice their hunting habits.
Local hunters will do well to take note of international developments if they don't want to be caught unawares by legislation being forced upon them. They should take precautionary measures such as ensuring that the shooting ranges where they practice do not contaminate the water or the environment.
If the answer is "yes"Â�, don't hesitate to take steps to rectify it. Do something before the fascists of the anti hunting fraternity force your hand.
The recent International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) workshop covered the present status of knowledge on intoxication problems with lead shot and an overview of the ballistic aspects of shot-gunning and the various non-toxic shots available.
Attendees unanimously supported the CIC policy to phase out lead ammunition, but there were contradictory arguments. The ballistics and lethality features of non-toxic materials such as iron (sometimes known as soft steel) are largely unknown.
The discussion has been broadened from wildlife management to include food and health aspects, focusing on game-birds. Thirty years ago hunters thought lead ingestion in game-birds was minimal. Unfortunately, we now know these views were misguided, said Dr GR Potts, President of the Small Game Commission of the CIC.
The use of lead shot in wetlands is being phased out due to waterfowl ingesting lead shot and the mortality risk, but practical experience has revealed a need to widen the scope to other game-birds and ecosystems.
The highest level of ingested lead in pheasants was reported in 2006; the highest levels in partridges were reported in 2008 and in all these species the percentage of birds that have been exposed to ingested lead shot is 5% to 25%.
At a May conference entitled "Ingestion of Spent Lead Ammunition: Implications for Wildlife & Humans"Â� under the auspices of the Peregrine Fund in Idaho, Prof Ian Newton, Chairperson of the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "The banning of the use of lead in ammunition over wetlands has greatly reduced the huge mortalities in waterfowl and others which were formerly so apparent. We can assume that this measure has reduced lead consumption by people and also by some scavengers such as bald eagles. However, other uses of lead in ammunition have continued unabated..."Â�
Papers presented at the conference revealed low levels of lead that were formerly considered benign in people have indeed had adverse effects.
Prof Newton said lead ammunition can be reduced by:
"Â¢ convincing the authorities to introduce appropriate legislation and
"Â¢ informing hunters about the health problems, asking them to switch to non-toxic ammunition.
* The first reports of the problem appeared in England in 1875 and 1882 when pheasants were found with the typical signs of ingested lead poisoning. Forty years later Tegetmeier reported he had "frequently"Â� found pellets of shot in the gizzards of pheasants.
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