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Is this the beginning of the end for lead in ammunition? That’s the question posed by as it examines the impact of the 1999 African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. The law “outlaws the use of lead shot over all foreshore, specified Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and for the shooting of all ducks and geese, coot and moorhen – wherever they occur.” Steel yourself. This gets bad. “That change caused immediate difficulty for wildfowlers, who had to switch to cartridges loaded with steel shot – similar in price to lead but not suitable for older guns and less effective at range – or highly expensive alloys like bismuth.” Not suitable for older guns as in KABOOM. No matter how you look at it, that’s gonna cost you . . .

The majority [of UK water-fowlers] accepted the change and cartridge manufacturers took up the challenge of replicating the ballistic qualities of lead pellets in shotgun cartridges, but using non-toxic materials. The main result was a drastic increase in the price of cartridges, up from an average of £5 to more than £30 for a box of 25.

That’s some pricey ammo, that is. Farmers’ reps contend that the trebling (and then some) of the price of shotgun shells threatens the landowners’ ability to control pigeons, rabbits and other pests.

More generally, the UK waterfowlers’ silent submission to an EU-wide directive on lead shot shows how far The Land of Hope and Glory has strayed from its independence and hunting traditions. Needless to say, it’s about to get worse.

There’s now a committee—the Lead Ammunition Group—contemplating whether or not Her Majesty’s Government should extend the lead shot ban to shotgunners taking aim at all creatures great and small, wherever they may be. Environmental and anti-hunt groups depending on non-independent science are [non-goose] down with that.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, a member of the group, broke ranks last week and put out its own research alleging duck, swan and geese are still dying from ingesting lead and calling for an all out ban on lead shot, not just on wetlands, but everywhere.

Under a hard-hitting headline: “Stop lead poisoning our birds” over a picture of a swan, the charity, which has Prince Charles as its patron and was founded by wildfowler turned naturalist Sir Peter Scott, published what it claims is damning research which shows current restrictions on the use of lead shot aren’t working.

It concludes: “Recent WWT research found a third of tested waterbirds had lead levels in their blood indicative of lead poisoning. Additionally, the disease was responsible for the deaths of 1 in 10 birds found dead over the last four decades, with no measurable changes following introduction of legislation.”

As the kerfuffle continues, shooting sports groups want to be clear: they’re not going to take it. Oh wait. They are.

The British Association of Shooting and Conservation, a prime mover in the Lead Ammunition Group is acutely aware of the need for the shooting fraternity to obey the rules as they currently exist regarding the use of non-toxic shot. Its advice on the BASC website reads: “Whatever we think of the regulations, they are now law. As responsible members of the shooting community it is not only an obligation but in our interest to comply with them.

“Refusal to comply will hasten the day of a total ban on lead shot. However remote the risk of prosecution may seem, anybody prosecuted could lose his or her shotgun certificate. when shooting over water.”

Fair enough, I guess, but I reckon their compliance will have zero impact on the looking-very-likely ban on lead ammo. And at what point do you draw the line?

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  1. This is european “democracy” in action. Only the rich and connected would be able to afford the guns, license’s and ammo to enjoy the shooting sports. We keep talking about socialism in europe but it looks more and more like old school monarchy to me.

    Keep your eyes down peasant and don’t question your betters. After all in england they’re called “subjects” for a reason.

    They’re probably comfortable with this style of government in europe. After all they’ve never known freedom there. One of many reasons I don’t like it when people qoute stats from accross the pond to back up arguments here. We’re not england, france or germany. We’re America.

  2. Don’t think it ain’t coming here. The previously defeated effort to get EPA to ban lead shot will never go away. It’s just another cog in the massive machinery of gunbannery.

  3. We haven’t been able to shoot waterfowl with lead for years in Washington State so I don’t really see a problem.

    • First it’s lead for waterfowl. Then lead for doves, pheasants, rabbits, squirrels, and so on. Then it’s lead for clay birds and everything else. I throw more lead downrange in one afternoon of skeet shooting than I do in 10 years of shooting pheasants. They’re already making ranges clean up. That ain’t cheap to do. Eventually that will be so cost prohibitive that the ranges will either make you start shooting steel (ever shot skeet/trap with steel? – I have. It sucks), or they’ll just go out of business.

  4. I would love to see fewer dumb animals killed by (non-kinetic) lead poisoning. But in the current grabber climate the danger is better addressed by personal responsibility and peer pressure.

  5. That picture comes really close to being a nice gun, but then I noticed the wood for the buttstock and foreend don’t match. I’d guess that someone fitted a new buttstock to the gun and didn’t bother doing the foreend.

  6. Yeah many of us who hunt are already dealing with this. Its why I’m paying $4 a shell for T-shot when #4 buck kills coyote just as dead.

    • Not much really. The ducks, geese etc. have to actually ingest the lead pellets and have them acted on by stomach acid to be poisonous.

      • Which unfortunately they do, in rather disturbing numbers.

        Look, I loved lead paint. Nothing covered as well, for so little and was so easy to apply. It was also a huge frakkin’ health issue. Are the current EPA regs on lead, especially regarding remodeling and painting a bit over the top? IMHO, they’re insane and most of the small contractors don’t even know them, let alone follow them. Should we roll back the clock and start painting with lead and scraping it off for a paint job without a care in the world? Hell effen no.

        I remember well the hew and cry of the lobbyists and defeatists who said the automotive world would end without lead in our gasoline. Yet here we are, with the fastest, most reliable, most economical cars ever built.

        This whining about lead shot is just the same old lobbyists, propaganda, and ignorance. There are ways to make lead shot so that an animal can ingest it, and it passes harmlessly through their GI tract. Put up the lead product that addresses the issue of lead transmission to animals that may eat it and fix the legislation. It is that simple and it could be done. It may cost a few extra bucks a box for shells. Big deal. You want to have anything left for your kids to hunt?

    • Exactly. No, our lead replacements aren’t perfect. Yes, some people cheat and shoot lead. But they are fewer every day.

      And yet, we still take plenty of waterfowl.

      The end result is less lead poisoning of our fish and waterfowl from lead shot. And if you can’t take ’em with steel, you probably sucked with lead too.

      • I am with you, alternatives(suitable) can be found. It will cost, but some things are worth paying for…

        “You want to have anything left for your kids to hunt?”


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