Lead poisoning continues

Monday 7th December 2015

Wildfowl grazingWildfowl grazing

5,000 tonnes of lead shot causes unnecessary damage to wildlife in the UK every year and enters the human food chain.

The Oxford Lead Symposium have published a report based on a scientific meeting held last year to consider the effects of lead ammunition on human health, wildlife and the environment. The severe toxicity of this heavy metal and its poisoning effect on human health has been known for decades and led to legislation which banned the use of lead in paint and petrol. Lead was removed from its widespread use in fishing weights in 1986 but there has only ever been partial regulation on the use of lead shot for gun ammunition and research shows that compliance with these rules is still limited.

2,000 tonnes of lead shot is used annually in the UK, with a further 3,000 tonnes of lead shot used in clay pigeon shooting.

Some of the lead shot ends up in the body of the targeted dead animal. In the case of pheasant, grouse, ducks, rabbits and geese this lead shot can then be eaten and absorbed by people so there is a health risk to humans. But only a proportion of the lead shot discharged actually ends up in the target and a significant amount is scattered irretrievably on the ground or in sensitive wetland habitats like lakes and rivers where it can have a damaging impact on wildlife and ecosystems.

It is eaten by grazing herbivores like ducks and seed feeding species who mistake the shot for grit or seed. The report estimates that thousands of tonnes of lead enter the wider environment every year and around 100,000 wildfowl (swans, geese and ducks) are poisoned annually from eating lead shot.

Here’s a link to the e-petition calling on the Government to ban lead-based ammunition which you may wish to consider supporting. http://wtru.st/1N54Ku7

WWT have a useful briefing on lead poisoning which you can read here: http://www.wwt.org.uk/news/news/2015/11/wwt-news/lead-ammunition-poisoni...