Green bullets and hunters

I’ve never been much of a hunter, but I was an avid fisherman years ago and I hate to think how many pounds of lead sinkers I left laying on various river beds and ocean floors during my time.

Lead is a heavy metal that can accumulate in organisms causing all sorts of detrimental effects, particularly to predators that are at the top of the food chain. The lead tends to become concentrated in those animals due to their feeding on many smaller animals. The lead issue was the trigger for my article on greener fishing.

But when it comes to other sorts of triggers, those associated with hunting and specifically the bullets used, lead also features heavily.

While Australia does have its share of hunters, it would pale in comparison to the USA where firearms are much easier to obtain and the gun culture more prevalent. The ammunition sector over there is a USD$ 1 billion plus a year industry. That’s a lot of bullets. The percentage of those bullets that would contain lead I have no figures on, but it would be substantial.

While the jury is out as to the environmental implications of all the lead slugs laying around our bush and forests, in some US states it’s now illegal to use lead based ammunition in certain areas

Some manufacturers are now playing the green card in making more environmentally friendly ammunition by using copper slugs instead of lead.

According to this article on CNN, even big name manufacturers such as Winchester and Remington are jumping on the green ammo bandwagon.

While I know the topic of hunting would raise the ire of many readers, I’ve had the opportunity to haunt a few hunting/shooters forums over the last couple of months and it has been quite surprising and pleasing to see how many hunters have a very wide green streak.

Some talk about conservation a great deal and far from being a blood-thirsty lot, many of these people’s primary interest is not so much mass slaughter, but the stalking aspect. It’s not how far away or how many bullets they can pump into an animal that scores points with their peers, but how close they can get and the ability to take down an animal cleanly and quickly with a single well placed shot.

I’ve read many threads where hunters have ignored animals because of the distance meaning a diminished chance of a clean kill or the animals were too few, too young, too old, had young ‘uns etc.

Some hunters focus on feral animals that compete with native species. One feral cat can kill dozens of native animals a year and have pushed species to extinction in some areas. The removal of these feral creatures is a great service.

I’ve read other threads where gung-ho hunters are blasted by their peers for taking too many animals, the wrong sort or using what is generally felt by the fraternity to be unethical hunting practices.

This move towards green bullets is another signal that perhaps we should listen a little more to what some hunters have to say when they are speaking about the environment. We often disregard their opinions because of the Rambo type of rhetoric spouted by some of the organizations that claim to represent them and the irresponsible individuals that give shooters a bad name.

These “green” hunters are out in our forests a lot and have a unique, intimate perspective on ecosystems. They certainly seem to know a lot more about the life-cycles and habits of their target species than most of us do. Some of these people *are* great environmentalists. After all, it’s definitely in their best interests to protect their patches because if local ecosystems collapse, the animals they target may disappear also.