UK: The last blast – Biggest shake-up in 500 years for game shooting as ban looms on ‘toxic’ ammunition.

The last blast – Biggest shake-up in 500 years for game shooting as ban looms on ‘toxic’ ammunition.

  • The pellets inside shotgun cartridges are toxic for animals, nature activists say
  • Lead ammunition has been used to shoot birds in the UK since the 1500s
  • Shooting organisations say the ban could take eight years to come into force

It’s the biggest shake up for the British hunters in over 500 years as the British government now considers a ban on the use of lead shot.

Lead pellets are inside of the cartridges used in shotguns.  They are toxic and can be fatal if they are eaten by other birds, animals and all wildlife.

Under consultation is the phasing out of lead ammunition across all environments in England, Scotland and Wales.  But shooting organisations are also saying that the ban could take up to 8 years before it comes into force.  It is expected that some in the shooting fraternity are not happy and have become quite reactionary. 

Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance; the main pro hunt organisation in the UK, has declared that the phase out can be done on their time scale, or it will be imposed on them.  He also accepted that there are now alternatives to lead shot.

The UK government has requested an official review of the evidence; followed by a public consultation to aim at a proposed ban on the ammunition.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow has stated that addressing the impacts of lead ammunition will mark a significant step forward in helping to protect wildlife, people and the environment.

Officials pointed to research by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust which shows that between 50,000 and 100,000 wildfowl die each year after ingesting lead from spent pellets which they mistake for food. Mr Bonner stated that such estimates were ‘a bit on the high side’; but then as a shooter and huntsman, he would.

The EU is expected to ban imports of game shot with lead – a major concern because around 60 per cent of British game is exported to Europe. Fears have been expressed by manufacturers as to whether they will be able to meet demand for new types of ammunition.

Last year several leading cartridge makers said that they thought that developing ‘high performance ammunition’ without lead in a short time frame, ‘without significant support’ from the Government, would be impossible.

Jonathan Young, editor of countryside sports magazine The Field, has voiced his doubts about the ability of steel pellets to kill game ‘efficiently and cleanly’.

But Dr Julia Newth of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust said: ‘Conservationists, shooting organisations and game meat retailers have recognised the toxic risks from lead ammunition.’

Produced by WAV with reference to:

UK: ‘The Last Blast’. UK Government To Consult on the Use of Lead Shot In Hunting – the Biggest Change for Over 500 Years. A Significant Step Forward in Helping to Protect Wildlife, People and the Environment. – World Animals Voice

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