Well done, Rob Sheldon!

800px-7.5_CartridgesA new e-petition has just appeared on the government website.

Lead is a poison. Its continued use in ammunition poisons tens of thousands of birds each year and puts human health at risk. Safe, non-toxic ammunition is used in countries across the world. The UK supports an international agreement to ban lead ammunition. We should ban its use immediately.

Lead is well known to be toxic and has been removed from petrol and paint, with legal limits set in most foods, except game. Spent shot can be eaten by wildlife, needlessly causing death and suffering. Lead bullets and shot can fragment, with potential risk to the health of humans that frequently consume wild-shot game. The Food Standards Agency advises frequent consumers of wild game to eat less, especially children and pregnant women who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead.

Well done to Rob Sheldon for putting this out there.

Red Grouse 1c fat arrows - CopyThere is every reason why the RSPB and the WWT should promote this e-petition to their members with enthusiasm and alacrity:

  • lead ammunition causes conservation problems
  • lead ammunition causes human health problems
  • both organisations have Council-approved policies to seek a ban of lead ammunition
  • staff of the two organisations kicked off the review by government that has highlighted the problems
  • it is thanks to WWT and RSPB staff that the problems of lead ammunition have been highlighted in the UK
  • Defra is dragging its feet on publishing and implementing the findings of the Lead Ammunition Group

But it is possible that the RSPB and WWT will be slow or reluctant to act – so let’s give this e-petition a healthy head start right now.

Sign this e-petition to ban toxic lead ammunition.



Website Pin Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google StumbleUpon Premium Responsive

Get email notifications of new blog posts

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

28 Replies to “Well done, Rob Sheldon!”

  1. Here here, signed with pleasure. The fishing community did it so why are the shooting lot being so silly about it? Probably "but its traditional to shoot with lead, so we'll carry on regardless".

    1. It's because all the other metals are ballistically inefficient so it will lead to more maimed animals, but if that's something you want to campaign for and would call progress then let that lie on your conscience.

      1. Jon - that's not what the Danes say, including Danish shooters - they got rid of lead decades ago. It's not what US shooters say either. And it has been illegal to use lead to shoot wildfowl for over a decade anyway.

        And, of course, it would have to lead to 50,000 more maimed birds to outstrip the beneficial effects of removing poison lead.

    2. I think it's down to the mindset of the shooting community. Very much like global warming deniers (i would put money on there being a strong association) who just can's stand being told what to do. These are the people who made the laws but don't necessarily obey or certainly don't like obeying, the ones they didn't.

  2. Signed!

    A few decades ago many people, with vested interests, told us DDT was not significantly damaging to the environment.

    1. & child labour in the mines and up chimneys was acceptable in the dark ages too. Might one ponder that Mr Bissett finds high levels of toxic lead in meat for human consumption likewise acceptable?

      Maybe the Danes are better simply better shots, or maybe it's the level of lead shot in the 'grousers' feet that impacts upon their capabilities?

  3. Thanks Mark for this post and helping get the promotion underway. It is encouraging to see in just about 24 hours there are almost 600 signatories.
    Thanks to the readers of your blog who have already signed and mentioned on social media.

  4. Signed it. I can't see any reason why RSPB shouldn't get behind this so I look forward to them doing so.

  5. From Monbiot today to this the generalisations associated with lead shot use are frustrating at times and in some ways where trust breaks down - the risks to wildlife are real and well established, particularly of course in granivores and especially the risks to avian predators alone from eating shot and unrecovered game might make us think its is worth stopping lead.

    The risks to us in our diet are established, but what those risks are relative to other dietary risks are not so well established for us, and by us I mean non-subsistence irregular consumers of game. The LAG report points out the much higher risks to high lead shot game consuming families, particularly to children, in itself is not reason to ban, I think it is OTT to say so. Control and mitigation yes as is the case with risks to children from heavy metal contamination when consuming freshwater fish across northern mainland Europe.

    All that said I think we frame this debate incorrectly in many ways. The Human health angle is being hyped up here only as a means to an end as if the risks were high or consumption was high there would have already been action (as there has been amongst subsistence communities due to their diet mostly being hunted meat). I think Rob's point of stating that it is a wildlife risk and the science can show this unequivocally and that there are viable alternatives is the strongest case. Jon Bissetts point is completely unproven classical hearsay and grumpiness about steel shot, as steel shot requires a change in shooter behaviour to work. Other non-lead shot types are better than lead at effectively killing game but are very expensive.

    Crippling rates only increase with steel shot when it is used incorrectly, to use steel you must increase the shot size buy 2-3 sizes and the load (to compensate for less pellets) and the speed a little (if you want, to maintain downrange energy, but shot size is the key point).

    As someone who uses steel regularly and has researched the other types, and the CONSEP research for years it is clear that for "hunting" both steel and other shot types are very effective. However the problem in the UK is not "hunting" of wild game it is the perceived risk to the commercial shooting industry which is a completely different beast. High volume, long range quarry, already got a crippling loss problem with lead, links to fine light old and antique guns. Wildfowlers, pigeon controllers, folks who walk the fields for some wild game for the pot would switch to non-lead shot, they may already have. Compliance is very high in wildfowling clubs on coastal marshes and at checked public sites such as Montrose etc.

    A switch to steel means a switch away from fine old guns and a switch away from days where lets be honest, pheasants are treated as large numbers of high challenging targets instead of a quarry to be respected and eaten.

    So there is the conflict. There is a vested interest in spreading mis-information about non-lead shot. and it is not as simple as switching like the Danes did as their country is flat and game shooting occurs within what you could say are reasonable ranges (out to 30m). In the UK it would mean massive changes to how commercial shooting is run in many areas, or massive changes to the equipment use. Now saying that, another Danish example shows it can be done as education and training of Danish goose hunters found that once they changed their hunting style/behaviours to get much closer to geese, the effectiveness of steel shot loads improved to be better than their old lead loads and different hunting behaviours.

    I am still frustrated at the misleading info both Mark and Monbiot have repeated about the lead shot ban on wetlands and compliance over recent times. I don't think its deliberate but it annoys me that they havnt taken the time to be more clear. Coastal wildfowlers should be praised for their insistence on members adhering to non-lead shot. That having been said, compliance of the vast majority of those "shooting" reared and wild mallards inland across the whole of the UK whether these ducks go on to be sold or not is almost certainly low. I know it be from my own experience, as do BASC/CA and that is why they keep asking their members to be compliant.

    OK rant over :0)

    1. tom - thanks very much. Compliance with the existing lead ban for wildfowl, as measured by wildfowl for sale in the human food chain, is nowhere near 50% and has not improved in the last 12 years. It's only people who shoot who shoot lead illegally into our food. Compliance measured after the Game Fair burst of publicity by shooting organisations in 2013 was no better than before. Shooters are not adhering to the existing law.

  6. Ok so it wasn't over...but a different perspective

    I asked a Food safety inspector in Sweden I know who is from a family that does lots of hunting and fishing what she thought about lead as a toxin. She said she acknowledged it, but they take measures such as cutting away wound channels on moose and deer, they don't eat much if any wild birds from shotgun shooting, they eat quite a bit of freshwater fish. But she said she and her family are outdoors all the time, they go into the forest and they walk to the lakes and they go out with the dogs and they eat less processed meat and otherwise are extremely healthy. She said the animals they eat in their household have not been raised only indoors in a farm and shipped across the continent. She said she remains unconvinced that the risks in her families diet are anywhere near as bad than someone in a city who never sees a forest and only eats processed food.

    I think there was some value in that response. I remained unconvinced that it was a strong case not to ban lead ammunition in rifles instantly as it just is not needed at all. But it had some value.

    1. There is a bit of a false dichotomy in your Swedish friend's argument. One can perfectly well enjoy the healthy lifestyle you describe without eating game that has been shot using lead ammunition.

  7. Thought provoking comments Tom- thanks.
    A brief comment about a part of the comment. Re your Swedish food inspector colleague. She is clearly coming from a very informed position, and has made a judgement on avoiding certain types of wild shot meat. You say that she avoids shot wild birds, and so do I - although I love pheasant and pigeon. Once I read about the effects of lead a few years ago, it is a choice I made too. Once there is a significantly reduced chance of me consuming toxic leadshot in my food, I will be an avid consumer of all types of wild game again. Unfortunately, the only way I can see that happening is through strict regulation, like many other parts of the human food chain (which admittedly also fails on occasions - eg horsemeat scandal).

    Re. another point you make about compliance. I'd be interested in knowing of any good data on compliance. I am happy for Mark to give you my email address if you wish to correspond.

    1. Rob, Tom - for a blog on compliance (or lack of it) see blog posted at 1305 today. - number four in the series 'Six reasons to ban lead ammunition'

  8. Yes agreed Mark on compliance - but it is unfair to say the ban is not effective at limiting lead on our extensive coastal wetlands which has been implied. As in those non commercial hunting activities compliance is high. Shot mallard from game shoots and flight ponds is not the same.

    Re sweden yes Rob but its not so much through avoidance, just that they mostly eat moose killed by rifle or roe killed by shotgun. A cultural difference.

  9. Either implied or stated. But coastal wildfowlers don't sell ducks to game dealers. So lead shot in bought mallards relates to where they were shot, and that will be on dedicated shooting estates that also sell pheasants etc.

    It means shooters flout the law when shooting ducks on fed ponds in the agri landscape. It doesn't mean that extensive wetlands are still exposed to lead. But that is only the UK, across the flyway ducks undoubtedly are still exposed to lead.

    Rob re data ask BASC and also ask angus and fife council, they have wildfowling wardens

  10. this research of yours is a load of rubbish, why are you trying to lie about this? there has not ever been a recorded death through lead ingestion, and bloody hell? ten thousand birds, a bit over the top? like i say, there hasnt been any recorded deaths in over 3 centries, when the first shotguns were made. norway has already unbanned the lead shot ban as they admitted they had not found enough evidence to support the theory of the ban. i think you all should rethink your opinion!

  11. i know someone that worked around this sort of stuff and these are his words--

    the fact is they have not got the evidence, its all built on crap science. I worked for defra and one Grade 7 manager in the wildlife section asked me one day why are BASC not fighting your corner. I did not have an anwser. She told me that if BASC had said NO at the time of the wildfowling ban it would not have happen becasue they did not have the evidence to get it past through the Commons and Lords. That is why we have to fight this with all we can. This petition was started to counter the Ban lead ammuntion petition set up by John Swift's friends in the Anti-lead lobby group.

  12. I should state at the outset that I am all for any measure that prevents serious pollution and damage to the environment, late in the day though we are in waking up to the big problems. Lead shot really is not one of them. Of course if you are simply against hunting then no argument will affect your already made up mind but in that case I would direct you to the natural history of Homo sapiens and ask you what on earth you think that species is if not a very evolved and efficient group hunter and gatherer and latterly agriculturalists as well. Look at the caves in Lascaux if you are not convinced. We are what we are for a reason. We have forward pointing eyes, juxtaposing finger and thumbs, we can outrun and outsmart prey species on land and in water and we are amazingly accurate throwers, never mind our capacity to make tools for throwing things even better such as bows and guns.
    That point aside it is absolutely correct for Michael Honour to point out that there is no evidence for wildlife being killed by the ingestion of lead shot and when you consider the matter it makes no sense. There are some ancient flighting ponds in England that must be full of lead shot given that it has been used there for the last few hundred years. Where are all the birds that should be found moribund with lead poisoning? They are not to be found. He is also right to point out that Norway has lifted the ban because it has realised non evidence led legislation ends up looking as stupid as you'd expect. As usual Scotland have got this matter right while England made an over reactive, non evidence led, poor decision.
    In Scotland you may not fire lead balls into wetlands and lochs where of course ducks ingest their grit from and on the principle of achieving a compromise to try and appease those who do not wish to look at the true facts, perhaps it was the best outcome. Messrs Avery and Monbiot know evidence for their case is scant however their zeal and passion on matters anti hunting should not be taken as the last word in reasoned thought. Passion and zeal are fine but law making is a more balanced and rational matter than is emotive campaigning. Besides, I've eaten plenty of lead pellets in my long lifetime and am considered to be just as stupid as I was before the ingestion took place!

    Shooting with steel shot certainly is more injurious to the quarry than lead because it cuts through rather than lodges the kinetic energy of the missile in the target animal. That is because it is lighter and harder. You 'lose' more birds wounded with steel - FACT. Although other denser, non toxic constructs are available at more than three times the price (some of which are even more humane at killing than lead eg the tungsten matrix in Hevi Shot), steel is by far the cheapest ammunition and yet lead is preferred, not as has been stated above because it is "traditional" but because it is effective. Mr Avery should be well aware of these facts having been a leading light in the RSPB when they were shooting thousands of Greylag geese in Uist under the banner of Machair Life Plus, a nom de plume they adopted to hide the fact that a bird charity was engaged in culling birds. Of course the RSPB also found that purchasing large quantities of Hevi Shot was going to prove very expensive and other cheaper answers were also sought in the Orkney and Shetland Culls but the steel shot that was purchased, unsurprisingly to those in the know, was revealed to be just as counterproductive in the north as it was in the west and was abandoned. To their credit though none of them ever used lead on the Greylags even although it would have been perfectly legal to do so in Scotland in agricultural fields.
    So come on England and Wales, adopt the perfect Scottish answer and use lead only on non wetland/water areas. Perhaps that way everyone will be happy? Ha, some chance! I'll be impressed if Mr Avery allows this posting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.