Saturday, May 7, 2011

May Conservation Tip


I was just leafing through the new Audubon Magazine when I stumbled upon a shocking article: Bad Shot by Ted Williams

Since I'm not a hunter I had no idea, that some, most?, hunters not only kill the animal they are shooting,  but in the long run other animals that share the same habitat, mostly birds.

By plumbism, lead poisoning.

Let me throw a few numbers at you...and some of my eagle images, to lighten the load...this is heavy reading:

" The U.S. geological Survey reports that as many as 400,000 lead shotgun pellets per acre are falling down on popular hunting fields, and that about 80,000 tons of lead accumulate each year on the nation's trap, skeet and target ranges." (2)

                                           Bald Eagle in Pine Tree

"Hunters shoot roughly 20 million mourning doves a year, but evidence suggests that nearly that many die from eating lead shot." (2)

                                            Bald Eagle with Hatchling


"There is, therefore, no doubt that millions of birds die annually worldwide from lead poisoning (in the U.S.A., around 3 000 000), this problem being most acute in marshland." (1)

                                 Juvenile Bald Eagle nibbling on plant   

"The University of Minnesota's Raptor Center in St. Paul received 117 lead poisoned bald eagles during the winter of 2009-2010" (2)

                                Curious juvenile Bald Eagle inspecting sundial

"Since 2000 there have been at least 276 documented cases of plumbism in condors.[ ]Numbers of free flying California Condors in the wild vary almost daily, but as of March 1, there were 369 left on the planet, including 177 in captivity." (2)

                                           On top

How does the lead get into the birds and what does it cause there?

Many birds mistake the pellets for the little stones or grit that they usually take in to grind food in their gizzards.
Vultures and Condors seek out the lead in carrion, because it feels like the bone they feed their chicks to maintain calcium levels.
Raptors ingest lead indirectly by hunting easier to catch poisoned small mammals, birds or fish, the latter poisoned by lead sinkers or ballast.

The lead then enters the digestion tract where they dissolve into lead salt. These are incorporated into the bloodstream and the rest of the body and accumulate in organs like the liver or kidneys causing physiological or behavioural changes.
No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered, meaning there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm.

The lead poisoning problem due to lead ammunition is known since 1894, wouldn't it be time to make some changes????

If you have a moment, read the article, since it is really well written and gives a complex understanding of the topic, this is just a small abstract to raise awareness.


Help spread the word, you can share this blog on facebook or send a link to your friends and relatives, especially if they are hunt or fish.

If you hunt, switch to nontoxic ammunition.

If you fish, switch to nontoxic sinkers and jigheads.

Tell your legislators to oppose bills that would strip the EPA of authority to regulate ammunition and fishing tackle.

(1) Lead and lead toxicity in domestic and free living birdsAvian Pathology June 2010

(2) Bad Shot Incite, Audubon Magazine May-June 2011, Ted Williams

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