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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Nowak: Lead ammunition ban would help environment

  • According to an article published by the American Bird Conservancy, both the California House and Senate recently approved a bill that requires all hunters to use non-lead ammunition by 2019. They are presently waiting on Governor Jerry Brown to sign it into law.
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  • According to an article published by the American Bird Conservancy, both the California House and Senate recently approved a bill that requires all hunters to use non-lead ammunition by 2019. They are presently waiting on Governor Jerry Brown to sign it into law.
    California would be the first state to phase in a total state-wide ban on hunting with lead-based ammunition and would expand an existing ban in southern California where lead fragments in wildlife carcasses have killed many California condors.
    Based on necropsies performed by the Peregrine Fund — the organization that has been leading the effort to restore the condors lead poisoning continues to account for 50 percent of condor deaths that they have studied.
    Besides the condors, other birds are impacted including Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, many species of hawks, vultures, and mourning doves.
    According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, recent unpublished data show that on one public hunting ground near Kansas City, 1,425 hunters reported firing almost 40,000 rounds of shotgun ammunition on and around 185 acres of managed fields, resulting in the deposition of about 2,500 pounds of lead on the area.
    According to the ABC article, during 2011, hunters harvested 14.5 million doves nationwide, using about 5 shots per bird.
    This amounts to nearly 30 billion lead pellets, or roughly 4.5 million tons of lead scattered around managed fields designed to attract the birds.
    I wonder how many tons of lead pellets are deposited on skeet ranges which probably see far greater numbers of shots on far less land.
    The article also points out that the U.S. military is expanding their ban on lead-based ammunition by moving to a non-lead version of their 7.62 mm bullet.
    This would be in addition to the existing switch that was made in 2010 which converted the 5.56 mm to a non-lead bullet.
    This has resulted in the elimination of nearly 2,000 tons of lead annually from the environment and the new ban would bump that up to an additional 4,000 tons of lead being eliminated from ammunition production.
    Experiments have shown that virtually all captive mourning doves that ate lead pellets died from the effects of lead poisoning. Studies suggest that 8.8 to 15 million doves die from lead poisoning each year, which is roughly the same number of doves legally harvested. Right about now, some wag is making the smart-butt statement that of course they die from lead poisoning because they were shot with lead. Thatís dumb; so forget about it.
    I have not read any literature nor ever been briefed that lead is not harmful to people and to wildlife.
    Nor have I ever read that lead is beneficial to human or wildlife health.
    All the evidence of which I am aware suggests that lead is not a good thing in our environment and we pay millions of dollars every year to clean up old lead paint, lead dust, etc. to protect our children.
    Page 2 of 2 - I hope that Governor Brown signs the lead ammunition ban into law and that with California hunters as well as military shooters needing lots of non-lead ammunition that production of non-lead ammunition will finally bring down the cost of ammunition.
    BTW, I think that one reason that bird hunters prefer lead is that lead shot deforms when it leaves the barrel and spreads out more so than non-lead shot.
    That means that you have to be a better marksman to hit your target.
    So, maybe non-lead bird shot will actually make our sport bird hunters into better marksmen while it protects us and our wildlife from lead poisoning.
    Matt Nowak lives in Lansing and works as a natural resources manager.

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