It’s ironic that the latest scientific report detailing the harmful effects of toxic lead ammunition on both humans and wildlife has been published today, right in the middle of Great British Game Week.
The report is the Proceedings of the Oxford Lead Symposium: Lead Ammunition – Understanding and Minimising the Risks to Human and Environmental Health. The symposium took place at Oxford University in December 2014 and this report contains a series of papers, authored by some of the leading experts in this field. The report can be read here.
Despite what SNH and Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod would have us believe (e.g. see here), and what the Countryside Alliance would have us believe (e.g. see here), it’s long been known that lead is a highly toxic poison and its subsequent health risks have been documented over and over and over again (see here for excellent summary review of risks to both humans and wildlife, and see here for evidence of lead poisoning in European birds, including 17 raptor species, and see here for evidence of lead poisoning in North American raptor and non-raptor species).
The latest report includes even more evidence, if any more were needed, but also an interesting paper by Cromie et al. on why there is such opposition from the UK shooting community to the removal of lead ammunition. To many of us, based on the overwhelming body of scientific evidence, it seems such a simple thing to accept and get on with; just change your ammo to something that isn’t lead. It seems, however, according to this later paper, that resistance from the shooters is simply because they see it as an attack on shooting in general and that if lead ammo is banned, they think it’ll be the thin end of the wedge for bringing down hunting as a whole. That’s pretty much their justification for refusing to sign up.
Three eminent scientists have made damning comments about the continued use of lead ammunition. One of them, Professor Ian Newton, arguably the world’s leading raptor ecologist, said this:
“My own view is that a legislative ban is needed on the use of lead in all ammunition used for hunting. At one stroke this would alleviate the problems created for people (especially the hunters themselves), for wildlife and for domestic livestock by this unnecessary but highly toxic material“.
If you agree, you can sign an e- petition to ban toxic lead ammunition. The RSPB and the WWT have been promoting this petition on social media today. If it reaches 10,000 signatures, the Westminster Government will have to respond, which would be very interesting indeed. SIGN HERE
BBC news here
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust article here
BASC statement here
Countryside Alliance statement here
UPDATE 27th November 2015: Excellent video produced by WWT about lead poisoning here