Click the plusses below to learn more about lead ammo and tackle, hunting and fishing lead free, and where to find non-toxic alternatives.
Lead ammo and fishing tackle kill birds. Lead poisoning has been documented in 63 species of birds since 1939, including ravens, pheasants and other game birds, owls, rails, gulls, buzzards, kites, eagles, vultures, condors, falcons, red-tailed hawks, white-throated sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers, and solitary vireos.
Lead is a toxic metal with no known safe exposure levels for humans or wildlife. In the United States, an estimated 3,000 tons of lead are shot into the environment by hunting every year, another 80,000 tons are released at shooting ranges, and 4,000 tons are lost in ponds and streams as fishing lures and sinkers. As many as 20 million birds and other animals die each year from subsequent lead poisoning (http://bit.ly/2d7h7KJ and http://bit.ly/2e0eYXs).
Saving Our Avian Resources has done a lot of advocacy for non-toxic shot and they have wonderful information on their website. A few figures that struck me:
In 1991, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service outlawed the use of lead ammunition to hunt migratory waterfowl after estimating that lead pellets killed about 2 million ducks every year. A follow-up survey of ducks on the Mississippi Flyway found that the ban on lead shot reduced lead poisoning deaths of Flyway mallards by 64 percent. The ban prevented the lead poisoning deaths of approximately 1.4 million ducks in the 1997 fall flight of 90 million ducks.
They do! The total number of migratory waterfowl harvested nationwide declined steeply beginning in about 1984, but started rising again after the ban on lead ammo was enacted, as shown by the chart. Requiring the use of non-toxic shot did not negatively impact waterfowl hunting, but did prevent ducks, geese, and many other animals from coming into contact with lead shot by ingesting it directly or feeding on lead-poisoned animals or carcasses containing shot.
Duck harvest chart, 1960 to 2013
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Are non-toxic loads effective?
Many resources conclude that they are:
Has reducing lead shot helped birds?
In addition to this study on waterfowl, a voluntary program in Arizona and Utah appears to be reducing condor deaths in those two states.
Looking for non-toxic advocates or educational materials? Try these links:
Good luck with your lead-free hunting and fishing!