A large volume of lead ammunition is discharged every year over the countryside, causing harm to the environment, wildlife and people. The government is now considering a ban under the UK’s new chemical regulation system – UK REACH– and has requested an official review of the evidence to begin today with a public consultation in due course.
Research by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust shows that between 50,000 and 100,000 wildfowl die in the UK each year due to ingesting lead from used pellets. Despite being highly toxic, wildfowl often mistake the pellets for food. A further 200,000 to 400,000 birds suffer welfare or health impacts, and animals that predate on wildfowl can also suffer.
Lead ammunition can also find its way into the wider environment and the food chain, posing a risk to people if they eat contaminated game birds. Studies have also found that lead poisoning caused lowered immune systems in wild birds, potentially aiding the spread of diseases such as avian influenza (bird flu).