US hunters – way ahead of ours!

A bit more reading for Fareshare and Ian Botham (see earlier blog post).

The antisocial nature of shooting a poisonous element into food – especially food that you give away to poor people – has long been recognised by US hunters who, dare I say it, do not always appear to be the most flexible and progressive of folk.  In contrast, it seems to me, that UK shooters (for few of them hunt anything) use food donation as a PR exercise and really don’t give much of a thought to the fact that their donation is riddled with lead.

Whoever runs the Countryman’s Weekly twitter account kept trying to tell the world and me that I am against feeding the poor after the publication of my earlier blog post on this subject but by repeating the fact that I was in favour of feeding the poor with game shot with non-toxic ammunition whereas he (for surely it must have been a ‘he’) didn’t care whether they ate toxic lead or not did I possibly get my point past his wall of abuse about my motives.  Why are our shooters so shamefully antisocial and selfish?

We are about a decade behind the USA already in moving away from lead ammunition when it comes to shooting game for human consumption.  Here are four examples:

  1. Here’s a good article from North Dakota, from a hunting magazine, and from 2008, which recommends hunters learn more about the subject and act accordingly. Because of the impacts of lead ammunition on food quality the ‘Venison Donation Program’ where hunters ‘do a Botham’ with their deer kills, only accepted deer shot with bows and arrows (or bolts) and not bullets.
  2. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank produced an interesting read on their work (in 2015) and mentioned ‘Venison containing lead, inadvertently donated by well-meaning hunters who have not made the switch to non-toxic ammunition’ – we don’t have many similarly well-meaning hunters (shooters) in the UK. Follow the link in that last article and read what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says about lead and hunters (back in 2008/9).  These, like me, aren’t anti-hunting views, they are anti-poisoning views. We don’t see anything similar from our selfish industrialised shooting industry.
  3. The simple leaflets, including one for Food Service Providers, attached to this letter from the Michigan Department of Community Health are way ahead of anything we have from the FSA, Defra or the shooting industry in the UK – and these are from 2010. We are living in the past when we think we are being altruistic by donating high-lead meat to food banks!
  4. And here is the personal tale of the epiphany of an American academic whose work I quoted in an earlier blog today when he realised that he had been feeding himself and his kids and friends and family high-lead meat unknowingly. The article is from 2009!


Fareshare and others who take donated game meat ought to be careful what they are doing. I fear they will get no good advice from the shooters with whom they work.  They also don’t get much help from the Food Standards Agency whose Chair is a grouse moor owner.  And they got no help at all from Liz Truss, when she was Secretary of State at Defra, who closed her ears to the evidence and took no notice of the report by the Lead Ammunition Group which recommended, after years of study, that lead ammunition be phased out on both wildlife health and human health grounds.

Rather than pushing lead-loaded meat into the mouths of the poor, UK shooters should be moving to non-toxic ammunition wholesale – then we could give them some praise. But right now, they are a selfish, luddite and antisocial movement more determined to keep to the old ways than to do the right thing.


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4 Replies to “US hunters – way ahead of ours!”

  1. Back in the old days when I was an active wildfowler (hopefully of the partly acceptable kind) I published an article in The Field promoting both the use of lead-free ammunition, enforceable bag limits and a total ban on the sale of shot wildfowl(as per USA) as being an important and progressive way for wildfowling to move into the 21st century. That was in 1986!!!! Not much progress I am sorry to say, but the article did generate some positive responses, but only from duck shooters in the USA! Just to set the record straight, I gave up shooting 26 years ago, instantly became a better person and do not regret my decision one bit.

  2. I think many of us would not have a problem with occasional game item(s) for one's own pot.

    It's the mass slaughter of a whole range of wildlife and the crime seemingly/allegedly required to underpin it the many not just the few find abhorrent.

    We knew it was going to get silly, after all the Inglorious 12th looms on the horizon ....


    This fight against lead adulterated game meat has parallels with the long 19th campaign to stop the use of lead and other toxic metal salts in food colouring (eg red lead sprinkled on sweets.)
    Dr Hassal's pioneering analytical work back then is a great story. He deserves far wider recognition as a great public health reformer. If the history teaches us anything, it is that wherever lead is used in, near or around the food chain, it eventually gets banned.
    Lead ammunition will soon go the same way as those pretty little Victorian sweets.

  4. and if anyone is interested in supporting those tackling food poverty as an issue - check out what can be done locally -
    some useful ideas here



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