Saturday, 3 October 2009

Lead Poison

'Mad' Marchington over at Sporting Shooter is back on the RSPB's case again this time over its legitimate and socially responsible move to use non lead ammunition on it's reserves when controlling predators. I find more often than not if you read what people write or listen to what they say carefully their underlying motives become clear.
James states he is "still unconvinced by the science behind it all, but in the end I don't think it will make the slightest difference." He doesn't actually state which bit of the science he is unconvinced by but just to help everyone get to grips with this let's highlight a couple of bits of the unconvincing science.

1. Lead poisoning is one of the oldest known work and environmental hazards. (source)
2. The modern understanding of the full extent of the hazards and the small amount of lead necessary to produce them is relatively recent; blood lead levels once considered safe are now considered hazardous. (source)
3.No level of lead in the body below which no harm occurs has been discovered. (source)

What our (unbiased of course) sporting editor does say though is that "I've used non-toxic shotgun ammo, and found it either inferior or considerably more expensive or both - but it still works."

Now you just have to wonder if the words 'inferior' and 'expensive' aren't those hidden motive thingys I referred to earlier. God forbid that anyone should attempt to reduce the quality of ammunition (and here I'll admit my ignorance, does this reduced quality make what your shooting at less dead?)or increase the price simply to avoid the by-product of pointless and unnecessary death and suffering of non game birds. Next thing you know they'll (the Antis, I think it's an affectionate term) be complaining about littering with all those non-biodegradable plastic cartridge casings that get left all over the if.


James Marchington said...

Hello, Mad Marchington here. As a lifelong hunter and consumer of game meat, I don't think there's anything hidden about where I'm coming from. I am sceptical by nature, a product of a scientific education and a career in journalism. Is the use of lead shot and bullets a significant threat to a) wildlife or b) human health? I don't know. Much of what I read on the subject sounds a lot like anti-hunting propaganda, and there is precious little real scientific research in this area, but my mind remains open.
And yes, I believe this will be decided not by good science but by the war of words. Ultimately, given the uncertainty, it's probably a good thing if we phase out lead shot and bullets. But we should not rush into this, ignoring such things as the welfare implications if for instance the RSPB's copper bullets turn out to injure large numbers of foxes rather than producing clean kills - something which, in my experience, shooters strive to achieve.
I certainly don't recognise myself or my shooting companions in your "pointless and unnecessary death and suffering of non game birds"; what on earth are you suggesting?
We really do need to get past this childish view of hunters as bloodthirsty sadists if we are to make any progress on important subjects such as this.

Alan Tilmouth said...

Thanks for your comments James. Part of the problem though is simply stating your unconvinced by the science and not actually explaining why. My final comments were suggesting that if carcasses contaminated with lead are eaten by species further up the food chain it may have an effect on their health and ultimately their survival.