A year ago the shooting organisations ‘took responsibility’ for phasing out lead ammunition with a fanfare;
At the time I wrote:
This statement from a bunch of land owning, land managing and shooting organisations is to be welcomed but not praised. After years of hindering progress these ultra-conservative bodies have bowed to the inevitable and said they want (not that they will ensure) an end to lead ammunition use on live quarry within five years.
It’s not too little, but it is very late. And we know that these organisations don’t have much power over the actions of their members.
They were dinosaurs on this subject all along and the stuff about new technology is just an excuse.
Government has been pitifully slow in doing anything about this subject and now they can hide behind this announcement, which may not be delivered on the ground (most other promises haven’t been) for several more years.
Were my words the product of jaded cynicism that never sees the good in those paragons in the shooting industry or were they perhaps amazingly prescient sharp analysis of industry trends? Neither, they were just based on long experience of the shooting industry promising that they love birds of prey and if they ever did kill birds of prey they have cleaned up their act now, and that they care deeply about climate change and will stop burning blanket bogs to blazes. This is an industry that has a long record of saying one thing and doing another, and they can only get away with it, in England, because they are supported by a government that behaves in a very similar way – promising long and delivering short.
Today, one year after that announcement, a paper is published (open access, Conservation Evidence) which assesses the ammunition with which Pheasants on sale in Britain from the 2020/21 shooting were shot;
In the most recent shooting season, the first of the five that will allegedly see the total disappearance of lead ammunition through voluntary restraint, 99% of 180 shot Pheasants had been shot with lead. The authors of the paper state, with admirable restraint, or with dry wit;
We conclude that the shooting and rural organisations’ joint statement, and their subsequent promotional actions, have not yet had a detectable effect on the ammunition types used by shooters supplying pheasants to the British game market.file:///C:/Users/Mark/AppData/Local/Temp/Green%20et%20al_CEJ_18_1_9.pdf
So that’s 20% of the time gone and 1% of the job done. Hmmm. Could do better.
In a blog last week I derided this phrase used in an ‘independent’ report on red tape and regulation’;
Rules and regulations should be a last resort, not the first tool out of the box. There are many effective, lighter-touch alternatives including self-regulation, codes of conduct, behavioural nudges, and earned recognition which should be considered first.Page 22, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads /attachment_data/file/961665/penrose-report-final.pdf
Well, maybe, sometimes, but with lead ammunition we have seen no progress from recreational shooters for decades. Even compliance with the law, on using non-toxic ammunition when shooting waterfowl, is low. We need a ban on th use of lead ammunition because we can’t trust shooters to do it themselves – even when their representative organisations say they will.
Lead is a poison, the science is clear, this is an issue that has been dragging on for decades, government hasn’t acted on the recommendations of the Lead Ammunition Group’s report from 2015, recreational shooters haven’t changed their ways and the shooting industry’s representative organisations can’t be trusted.
What will BASC and others say? Will DEFRA and Natural England praise the industry for their good start to phasing out lead ammunition in their first year of taking responsibility? Let’s see.