[Tweeters] lead shot issues

Martha Jordan swanlady at drizzle.com
Sat Nov 24 17:39:54 PST 2007

And the myths seem to continue regarding the legal and banned used of lead
shot. It is not surprising since there is a shortage of information out
there on this issue. This is a summary:

Here are the facts about the use of lead shot: It is illegal to use lead
shot for waterfowl and waterbird hunting in the US (1991 and in some areas a
little earlier) and Canada (1999).
It is still LEGAL to use lead shot for upland bird hunting (yes, even in
wetland areas or agricultural areas heavily used by waterfowl) except on
some WDFW Wildlife Recreation areas and most of Skagit County.
It is LEGAL for lead shot to be used for crow, starling and other "vermin"
control. Therefore, farmers and others use this tool in and around farms
and throughout the Snohomish Valley (for example) on crows. Last year it is
estimated that the crow hunters in the Snohomish Valley area deposited 6
tons of lead on the farm fields (this is from a hunter source).

It is also LEGAL for lead shot to be used for any and all target shooting.
The practice known as unregulated target shooting (that is not on a bonafide
and designated shooting range) is still legal. Many hundreds of tons of
lead are deposited on agricultural and wetland areas in this state alone--
just go out and observe the number of times you see someone with a clay
target thrower and shotgun in their back pasture or over a water body.

While the swans that are dying are likely picking up mostly old lead, we
know for a fact (from necropsy work) that new lead is also being ingested.
The size of the shot is the key. We still see newer target load size shot
(also called upland game loads) in the gizzards along with non-toxic shot of
all kinds.

It is not the waterfowl hunters that are the issue. It is all the other
still legal users of lead shot that continue to deposit this toxic substance
onto the soils and wetlands. It is not an easy topic to address, it is
truly complicated.

However, progress is being made both with lead shot and with lead used in
fishing (big issue for loons and some for swans). We are fortunate that
this week, Dr. Mark Pokras from Tufts University, will be here to deliver
several presentation on "Lead, Health & the Environment: Old Problem & 21st
Centruy Challenge. Dr. Pokras presentation will review the current state of
knowledge on the toxicity of lead and its behavior in the environment,
including the effects on wildlife, humans, and domestic animals. We will
also discuss the importance of bringing together all interest groups to find
safe alternatives, to develop new educational and policy initiatives, to
eliminate many current uses of Pb, and to clean up existing problems.

There is also a conference on the larger issue in Boise, ID next May 15-18,
2008 Ingestion of Spent Ammunition: Implications for Humans and Wildlife.
http://www.peregrinefund.org/lead_conference/ This should be very good.

If you want more information or wish to participate in an international
discussion group on this topic please let me know. I will connect you with
the appropriate people.

Martha Jordan

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