Shotgun Pellets Still Poisoning Birds

This is not an anti-hunting or anti-hunter type post. Responsible hunters can be dedicated environmentalists – after all, without game, hunting is just walking around the place with a gun. They are often more connected to nature than many of us.

Responsible hunters are independent people with a healthy streak of self-sufficiency – they help feed their families and those of their friends and neighbours with meat that has not been sourced from animals in factory farm conditions. They respect the sacrifice the animal has made to provide that food.
Responsible hunters also help control feral animal populations and strive for a single-shot and relatively instant kill. 

I am not a hunter but it upsets me when the redneck, trigger-happy drunken weekend warrior element refer to themselves as such, casting a shadow over every hunter. 
That out of the way; like every pursuit, job or hobby, there are ways to go about things in a more environmentally friendly fashion.
Back in 2009, I wrote about “green” bullets

A major problem with some ammo is the actual slug or pellets are made of lead. 

Shotgun pellets in particular can be a problem as each shell can contain hundreds of them. When a shotgun is fired, those pellets spread out and comparatively few will hit their target. What remains can contaminate the soil, or in some cases be ingested by animals; particularly water birds.

Manufacturers have been making some inroads towards creating greener ammunition that is just as effective as lead – but they also need to change perceptions among their customers it seems.

According to an article on the Independent:

“Tests on nearly 300 waterfowl sampled at four sites in Britain during 2010 and 2011 found that 34 per cent of them had elevated levels of lead in their bloodstream..”


“..Postmortem tests revealed that the gizzard of some birds contained up to 438 pieces of lead shot, the scientists found.”

This is in spite of bans of using lead shot in wetland areas. It’s quite possible some of this was very old lead as it doesn’t break down as such. But new lead on top of old doesn’t help the problem.

I know very little about ballistics, but it seems steel shot is quite suitable as a replacement for shotgun shell pellets and copper or non-toxic alloys for slugs. Perhaps it’s time to be done with this issue and just make lead shot and slugs illegal everywhere. 

After all, it’s a highly toxic substance being fired into a natural environment – a dumping of sorts. Even when slugs hit their target, they often pass right through. 

It would appear to me there’s just no need for lead in ammunition any more.


Greener fishing