Question tabled in House of Lords on gamebird shooting industry’s failure to stop using toxic lead ammunition

Last week a new scientific study was published, led by eminent researchers from the University of Cambridge, showing that three years into a five-year pledge to completely phase out lead shot in UK game hunting, 94% of pheasants on sale for human consumption were killed using toxic lead ammunition (see here).

The continued use of this poisonous ammunition has health consequences for wildlife (especially birds of prey), the environment and for humans – see here for further information.

Many thanks to Green Party Life Peer Natalie Bennett who has lodged a parliamentary question for DEFRA to answer, asking what steps the Government plans to take to end the use of toxic lead shot given the gamebird-shooting industry’s continued failure to do it voluntarily.

11 thoughts on “Question tabled in House of Lords on gamebird shooting industry’s failure to stop using toxic lead ammunition”

  1. Well done to Natalie Bennett for raising the issue in the House of Lords. Perhaps someone could ask the same question of Ms Coffey in the House of Commons.

  2. Well done Natalie for keep up the pressure on this important issue.

    A little while back I was in detailed discussion with both M&S and Sainsbury’s in an effort to get them to understand that flogging meat with lead in it, in this day and age, was not a good idea. M&S were a lot more receptive to my entreaties that Sainsbury’s who were plainly well practiced at being obdurate.

    I came across a very clear and unequivocal statement on the subject from the World Health Organisation which I reproduce below.

    Key facts
    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 foetus.

    There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects. Lead exposure is preventable.

    1. Thanks, Mike. Wild Justice has just tested more gamebird meat sold in Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer (amongst others) in the run-up to Xmas 2022….you’ll be interested in the results…out soon!

  3. It is pretty evident that a voluntary process is not going to result in the phase out of lead ammunition any time soon. A ban seems to be the only sensible way forward. If lead based ammunition cannot be legally sold in this country its use will inevitably come to an end. There does not seem to be a good reason for this not to happen.

  4. Yes, stop making lead shot seems to be the simple and final solution. Back in the day when the care of shotguns was of interest to me I seem to remember that the shooting press condemed Iron shot as being damaging to the bores of the barrels, lead on the other hand imparted a very thin protective coating. you can trust the shooting world to come up with a self propogating excuse for everything!

  5. None of the problems, real or imagined, of the alternatives to lead are insurmountable, but merely inconvenient to adapt to. It’s the stubborn “us versus them, why should we give an inch” mindset at work again, born from the same sense of entitlement that prevails generally in the UK game shooting scene.

    1. Indeed. Denmark has had a ban on lead shot for years and shooters there seem to get along just fine.

      1. The Danish Government website is currently under attack, but the cached results of a Google search returned: “The ban against lead in rifle ammunition used for hunting is expected to be implemented force (sic) in 2023 after a period of transition” 13 Nov 2020 ( report: In June, Denmark took an important step to address the harm caused by lead: The country will ban the use of all kinds of leaded ammunition for hunting as of April 2024. Denmark is the first country to enact a total ban on leaded ammunition. 1 Sept 2022

        Separating out shotgun ammunition gives this widely quoted article “Lessons learned from 33 years of lead shot regulation in Denmark” Niels Kanstrup Nov 2018.

        A total ban on all hunting use of lead shot, and the trade of lead shot cartridges, was ‘finally’ made in 1993, but not enforced in forests and trading until 1996.

        A review of hunters publications showed initial hostility. A ‘wider appreciation’ of the harm ‘dispersed lead shot’ does in the environment, and the introduction of new generations of alternative forms of shot types, led to attitudes among hunters changing completely.

        However, it is claimed this has ‘enhanced’ the public image of hunting such that it has boosted the ‘long-term political sustainability of hunting.” Grrrrrr…


  6. Perhaps Natalie would care to mention this in any followup….

    On 1st September 1999, the Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot)(England) Regulations 1999 came into effect.

    This made it illegal to use lead shot on ducks, geese and certain other waterfowl in England, and/or to use over certain wetland habitats.

    In a study by Stroud D A, Pain D J, & Green R E. 2021. “Evidence of widespread illegal hunting of waterfowl in England despite partial regulation of the use of lead shotgun ammunition” Conservation Evidence Journal 18: 18-24. DOI: 10.52201/CEJ18GRKF2551 they estimated that approximately 13 million ducks have been illegally shot using lead ammunition since that ban (an average of 586,000 per year).

    They say that represents about 70% of the total ducks shot.

    There has been just ONE prosecution for an offence under the Lead Shot Regulations 1999 in all that time!

    An ‘awareness raising’ campaign about the Regulations, by the Government, showed “no detectable decline in the number of ducks being illegally killed” afterwards.


    1. ….. and, if I recollect correctly, that single prosecution related to a rogue pheasant shooter who took aim at what he thought was a goose but turned out to be a Mute Swan!

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