Scottish gamekeepers reject call for voluntary ban on toxic lead ammunition

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.

32 thoughts on “Scottish gamekeepers reject call for voluntary ban on toxic lead ammunition”

  1. They always have been the out and out denialists. Most of them appear to reject climate change too, and I expect a fair few think the earth flat.

    It will serve them right if the Scottish Government decides to legislate anyway, though I’m not clear whether this is a devolved matter.

    1. Hi Alan,

      I believe it is a devolved matter.

      See the Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (Scotland) (No.2) Regulations 2004, which, incidentally, deliberately excludes many driven grouse moors from regulation as ‘peatland’ ( as included in the RAMSAR definition of ‘wetland’ and thus lead shot should be prohibited) is specifically defined in this Scottish legislation (Para 3(2)(b)) as ‘only peatlands with visible water’.

      It’s a scandal, as so much of the driven grouse shooting industry is.

      1. Yup. But that does confirm it’s devolved – and with SLA signed up and SGA not, there could be some interesting campaigning times ahead.

  2. Mark Avery made important points in his blog that some of the people who’ve been fighting against lead ammo for years received ridicule for doing so from this very same shooting community, now it’s pretending it’s taking the lead on this. Bastards. The statement from the SGA was cringeworty, really dreadful – I’m actually reluctant to mock it, because that would feel like taking the piss out of a child that’s struggling with their reading and writing.

  3. Clearly, eating lead-shot game ‘all their lives’ has damaged Scottish Gamekeepers’ powers of reasoning.

    Even as long ago as 2009, Scientific American published an article on research into the effects of lead shot on human health (Wild Meat Raises Lead Exposure – Tests by the CDC show that eating venison and other game can raise the amounts of lead in human bodies by 50 percent)

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service first banned lead-shot for waterfowl in 1991. California banned all lead ammunition in 2013. The USFWS then decided to eliminate all lead (ammunition and fishing weights) on all its lands by 2022.

    However, our Food Standards Agency only recommend against consuming lead-shot game, so the most significant poison known to still reside in the UK human food chain remains completely unregulated. I believe the previous FSA CEO was married to the owner of a grouse moor shooting estate, which may explain this xxxxxxx xxxxxxx [Ed: this is defamatory!].

    Scottish educational attainment has also been historically declining: I wonder if there is a causal relationship with environmental lead? I’m fairly sure no one has ever checked…

    This – the prevalence of lead-shot in our environment, and the promotion of shooting by the Royal Family and the Establishment – is yet another long term scandal ignored by the British media. I wonder why?

    Mrs Queen and Charlie have a lot to answer for….

  4. Any correlation between eating meat containing lead shot and letting Donald Trump buy two golf courses in your country?

  5. The SGA should at least do some research before being so blatant about things. The decision to reverse the ban on lead shot was made by the right-wing government in 2015. This was despite evidence and recommendations from the government’s own advisory body about the effects of lead in the environment and the negative effects on human health. But the muppets in power did not listen to their own advisory body. Sounds familiar?
    The result of the lifting of the ban on lead meant that in the same year (2015) then 55 % of all lead pollution into the environment was from ammunition.
    And just why is lead banned / phased out in many products and in many other countries? Well, it is dangerous to health. Studies have shown that. We are talking old news – lead pipes were phased out in housing many moons ago,a nd with good reason. The same with lead in paint, petrol etc. Now, if anyone, whether it be the SGA; BASC or whoever, thinks that it is okay to allow he use of lead in ammunition in the UK, then they need their heads looked at. If they personally want to ingest the stuff then please grind lead pellets into a fine powder and do as you will, but just don’t go spreading the stuff in the environmen to the detriment of our wildlife, which is there for everyone else to enjoy.

  6. Right time for an all out PR campaign – I would bet that most of the public are totally unaware that lead is still being spread about willy nilly by game shooters. They will be aware that its dangerous, they will be aware that it was taken out of such things as paint and petrol. They will not be understanding of these obscure delaying tactics. Get stuck in…

  7. One thing in the SGA screen grab that really had me shouting at the screen; “Our members, whose responsibility it is to control wildlife populations…” WHAT!!! The sheer effrontery of that statement both defies belief and shines a very bright light on how these monsters see themselves and their “mission”. They really have got to go.

    1. Me too. So who sets the parameters? Who decides what will live and what won’t. No doubt these numpties are all going around, independently taking out a xxxxxxx here, a xxxxxxx there etc, all fulfilling their control-freaked, self-appointed, role of playing God in the countryside. As Andy says, they really do have to go and the sooner the better.

      [Ed: slightly edited to remove defamatory comments]

    1. “I was surprised that lead ‘Shot’ was still being used.”

      Why? It has never been completely banned in the UK, or within the EU.

  8. “Our members, whose responsibility is to control wildlife populations, …” says it all. Was this a god-given responsibility? Now we know why they [Ed: rest of comment deleted as defamatory]

    1. Just about to post the same comments , is this an admission by the SGA that conversation isn’t their main role, but killing wildlife is.

      1. Of course it is! I can’t understand why my previous comment was redacted, as my final remark seemed to follow the line adopted by RPUK for as long as I’ve been posting, without naming any specific individuals. I can’t imagine myself being escorted to prison in a Black Maria! Ah well, there must be a good reason I suppose.

  9. The World Health organisation provide the following key facts regarding lead:

    Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.
    Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones.
    It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.
    Lead in bone is released into blood during pregnancy and becomes a source of exposure to the developing fetus.
    There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.
    Lead exposure is preventable.

    So it is interesting that the SGA, (an organisation which clearly states in the above media release that its members responsibility is “to control wildlife populations) is challenging the medical effects of ingesting lead provided by World Health Organisation (whose members have the responsibility of providing scientifically sourced medical knowledge to governments).
    So where are the SGA getting their medical evidence from to make such a challenge?

    The SGA claim that – quote-
    “The majority of people in our industry have eaten shot game all of their lives, from childhood”- “It is natural for them to be somewhat sceptical of lead impacts, given that they have eaten it all their lives without any quantifiable impact on their health.”

    is clearly at odds with the WHO claim that –
    ” At lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems. In particular lead can affect children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment.”

    WHO go on to state that
    “There is no known ‘safe’ blood lead concentration; even blood lead concentrations as low as 5 µg/dL, may be associated with decreased intelligence in children, behavioural difficulties and learning problems. As lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases.”

    Draw your own conclusions !!

  10. “Our members, whose responsibility is to control wildlife populations, …” About time government “controlled” these lowlifes out of existence. We knew these folk were living in a past age , one only has to look at their clothing on a shoot day but this is proof, if that were needed, of their complete disregard for normal thought. Talk about mentally challenged!

  11. I’ve just looked at the BASC’s facebook feed with that dear old oaf DT on damage limitation duty as their announcement yesterday finally forced all those shooters with their heads in the sand or in denial about lead have been rudely awakened from their complacency. Shows what these folk are really like, its also very funny!

    1. I’ve just had a look at the BASC fb page and by God it’s membership are furious! The ones saying this had to be done are greatly outnumbered by those spitting feathers and cancelling memberships. It just goes to show that when at very long last the shooting organisations decide to act semi reasonably and semi professionally they no longer represent their members! Clearly a fair proportion of the dregs of humanity have a gun.

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