This morning a load of game shooting organisations announced that they wanted to promote a voluntary ban on the use of lead ammunition and to see an end to its use within five years.
This announcement is hardly a surprise. The poisonous properties of lead ammunition and its devastating impact on wildlife has been known for years and years and years, and most of the previously significant sources of lead in the environment (e.g. lead-based paint and leaded petrol) were eliminated decades ago.
Lead-based ammunition has since been the most significant unregulated source of lead deliberately emitted in to the environment in the EU but recent recommendations from the European Chemicals Agency to the European Commission propose an outright ban in terrestrial as well as wetland environments (where it is already banned although testing has proved UK compliance is poor).
The game shooting organisations have seen the writing on the wall and have decided to jump before being pushed. If you don’t believe that then have a look at this video featuring Ian Bell, BASC CEO – it’s hilarious – “It’s us who sets the pace, not the people who challenge us“. Yeah, right, Ian. The shooting industry hasn’t just had its arse handed to itself on a plate by environmentalists, then? Try reading about the Lead Ammunition Group and its history of resignations.
Of course, we’ve been here before with the game shooting industry and voluntary bans – they don’t work. Of course they don’t work – this is an industry that struggles to comply with the law, especially on raptor persecution, let alone a voluntary commitment!
According to a statement from the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT), a group that’s been at the forefront of campaigning against lead ammunition for a very long time,
‘While the transition to lead-free ammunition is a positive move forward, conservationists stress that previous voluntary bans have been unsuccessful and without policy change at government level, there will still be risks to human health, wildlife and the market for game birds. A full restriction will contribute to the further removal of poisonous lead from our environment‘.
Of course, for a voluntary ban to have any chance of success all the stakeholders need to be on board to start with. And according to Ian Bell, “All the major shooting and rural organisations are calling for this change“. Are they? It doesn’t look like it – where’s the Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s logo on that press announcement? It seems to be missing.
Ah yes, here’s why…..without any sense of irony about the neurological damage of consuming lead shot for years, here’s the SGA’s response to the call for a voluntary ban on lead ammo:
[Screen grab from the SGA’s website, this statement was posted there yesterday evening]
For as long as these dinosaurs are left to their own devices don’t expect to see a voluntary reduction in the use of lead ammunition in Scotland any time soon.