How Lead Bullets Endanger Birds and Babes

Across the old west, the terms “lead” and “bullets” were used interchangeably. Lead bullets historically are the bullet of choice for many hunters. Many argue that lead increases hunting success. Others say copper is better for the gun. What all can agree on, however, is that lead is very toxic and dangerous. 

When firing a lead shot, it fragments tiny indetectable pieces of lead throughout the body of the animal and the environment (water, soil, etc.) This meat is then eaten, by either humans or other wildlife. Human health experts advise against harvesting meat from an animal shot by lead. While hunters have the education and choice to make this risk, the wildlife on the land does not. This is why the debate against lead shot is fueled by environmental concerns. 

Quick Facts On Lead Bullets

  • Lead “bioaccumulates” in animal tissue. This means it gathers inside the animals over time and reaches deadly levels. 
  • According to the National Park Service, lead bullets are considered the #1 threat to the endangered california condor. In 1987, there were only 22 california condors in the world. Today, as the condor populations grow again, still 50% of known mortalities are caused by lead poisoning
The California condor is the second largest bird of prey in the world. Commonly found at angels landing in Zion National Park, UT and the Vermillion Cliffs in AZ.
  • Scavengers are very susceptible to poisoning. To lighten the weight of a harvest, many hunters leave gut piles in the environment. These gut piles can have fragments of lead. When scavengers such as eagles, coyotes, bears, and the endangered California condor eat the pile, they are impacted by the lead.
Diagram of how lead ammo impacts wildlife such as birds

Moral of the Story

Due to the presence of many non-toxic forms of ammunition, it is incredibly encouraged for hunters to avoid using lead. While it is not illegal across the country yet, many states are beginning to move in that direction, such as the state of California, where it is illegal.

In hunting, conservation is essential. If we don’t take care of the wildlife, there will be no more wildlife to take. Because of this, all should support the use of non-toxic ammunition such as copper bullets. But remember, both lead and copper bullets can start a fire.

The Out sider

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