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Regulation of Lead-based Ammunition Around the World

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Abstract and Figures

The use of lead shot and bullets has been regulated in many countries around the world. Using published literature, we compiled a summary of the extent, type, reason, and date for establishing ammunition legislation in each country where it exists. We documented 29 countries with regulations on lead ammunition. The types of bans varied widely and ranged from partial, voluntary restrictions of the use of lead shot to a total ban on the use and import of lead ammunition. The most common restriction (n=14) was the ban of lead shot for hunting of waterfowl over wetlands. The reason for the ban of lead ammunition was most often due to concerns over populations of waterfowl or avian scavengers. Many countries created legislation in response to the African-Eurasian Waterfowl Agreement’s (AEWA) recommendation for the use of nontoxic shot over wetlands. Other countries, such as Liberia, banned the use of lead ammunition after a military coup. A timeline demonstrates the momentum with which this issue is gaining ground with most of the regulations taking place in the past 15 years and further regulations under discussion in many areas. An accumulating body of evidence shows that a reduction in the use of lead for hunting also benefits wildlife and humans who consume wild game.
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REGULATION+OF+LEAD‐BASED+AMMUNITION+AROUND+THE+WORLD+
DOMINIQUE"AVERY+AND"RICHARD"T."WATSON"
The Peregrine Fund, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, ID 83709, USA.
E-mail: rwatson@peregrinefund.org
ABSTRACT.—The use of lead shot and bullets has been regulated in many countries around the world. Us-
ing published literature, we compiled a summary of the extent, type, reason, and date for establishing am-
munition legislation in each country where it exists. We documented 29 countries with regulations on lead
ammunition. The types of bans varied widely and ranged from partial, voluntary restrictions of the use of
lead shot to a total ban on the use and import of lead ammunition. The most common restriction (n=14) was
the ban of lead shot for hunting of waterfowl over wetlands. The reason for the ban of lead ammunition was
most often due to concerns over populations of waterfowl or avian scavengers. Many countries created leg-
islation in response to the African-Eurasian Waterfowl Agreement’s (AEWA) recommendation for the use
of nontoxic shot over wetlands. Other countries, such as Liberia, banned the use of lead ammunition after a
military coup. A timeline demonstrates the momentum with which this issue is gaining ground with most of
the regulations taking place in the past 15 years and further regulations under discussion in many areas. An
accumulating body of evidence shows that a reduction in the use of lead for hunting also benefits wildlife
and humans who consume wild game. Received 16 May 2008, accepted 25 July 2008.
AVERY, D., AND R. T. WATSON. 2009. Regulation of lead-based ammunition around the world. In R. T.
Watson, M. Fuller, M. Pokras, and W. G. Hunt (Eds.). Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition: Implica-
tions for Wildlife and Humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, USA. DOI xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Key words: Ammunition, country, lead, regulation, state, world.
THE USE OF LEAD SHOT AND BULLETS is regulated in
many countries around the world. The types of
regulation vary widely and range from partial, vol-
untary restrictions of the use of lead shot to a total
ban on the use and import of lead ammunition.
Most countries have implemented regulations due
to concerns about the health of migratory waterfowl
and avian scavengers. Existing regulations are be-
ing strengthened and new ones implemented due to
accumulating evidence of the adverse health effects
in wildlife and humans of lead from spent ammuni-
tion.
METHODS
We used the internet to search for reports and peer-
reviewed articles on lead ammunition regulation.
We compiled a summary of the extent, type, reason,
and date for establishing lead-based ammunition
legislation in each country where it exists. Data that
could not be verified for accuracy were excluded.
RESULTS
Our search yielded 29 countries that have imple-
mented voluntary or legislative restrictions on the
use of lead ammunition (Table 1). Two counties
have banned all forms of lead ammunition. Six
countries have a partial ban on the use of lead bul-
lets in addition to full bans on lead shot. Four coun-
tries have banned the use of lead shot for all hunt-
ing. Fourteen countries and Australian territories
have banned the use of lead shot in wetlands or for
waterfowl hunting. Two countries have voluntary
"AVERY"AND"WATSON"‐"
2
or recommended restrictions in place. Eleven coun-
tries and Australian territories have a partial ban on
lead shot. Twenty-five states of the United States
have implemented regulations on the use of lead
shot in addition to the Federal guidelines. Seven
countries have implemented increasingly strict
regulations on lead ammunition over time.
DISCUSSION
Many countries created legislation in response to
the African-Eurasian Waterfowl Agreement’s
(AEWA) recommendation for the use of nontoxic
shot over wetlands (Beintema 2001). Concern about
populations of avian scavengers have prompted
bans in several countries, such as Japan, and in the
United States lead ammunition has been banned in
portions of California used by condors. Liberia,
where lead shot was banned due to a military coup,
was the only country to ban lead ammunition for
reasons other than health of wildlife or humans.
Increasingly strict regulation imposed on the use of
lead ammunition is a growing trend internationally.
A timeline (Table 2) demonstrates the momentum
with which this issue is gaining ground with most
of the regulations taking place in the past 15 years
and further regulations under discussion in many
areas. Scandinavian countries have led the way in a
full ban on lead ammunition, with Denmark ban-
ning lead in 2000 and Sweden scheduled to imple-
ment a full ban in 2008.
Evidence of lead exposure in arctic subsistence
hunters who continue to use lead shot (Dewailly et
al. 2001, Johansen et al. 2003) suggests that the ban
on behalf of eagles has benefited humans as well.
Countries worldwide are responding to an accumu-
lating body of evidence that shows that the reduc-
tion in the use of lead-based ammunition for hunt-
ing benefits wildlife and humans who consume
wild game.
LITERATURE CITED
BEINTEMA, N. 2001. Lead poisoning in waterbirds.
International Update Report 2000. Wetlands In-
ternational and UNEP/African-Eurasian Water-
bird Agreement Secretariat, Bonn, Germany.
DEWAILLY, E., P. AYOTT, S. BRUNEAU, G. LEBEL,
P. LEVALLOIS, AND J. P. WEBER. 2001. Expo-
sure of the Inuit population of Nunavik (Arctic
Quebec) to lead and mercury. Archives Envi-
ronmental Health 56:350–357.
JOHANSEN, P., G. ASMUND, AND F. RIGET. 2004.
High human exposure to lead through consump-
tion of birds hunted with lead shot. Environ-
mental Pollution 127:125–129.
"LEAD"AMMUNITION"REGULATION"‐"
3
TABLE 1. Comparison of types of lead-based ammunition regulation worldwide in 2008.
Asterisk indicates states or other sub-regions of countries.
Country
or State
Recommended
use of nontoxic
shot
Partial ban on lead
shot
Partial ban on lead
ammunition
Ban on all
forms of
lead
ammunition
Ban on
hunting
Nontoxic
shot re-
gulations
in add-
ition to
Federal
Austria
Banned prior to
2002
Australia
*Capital
Territory, AU
Hunting
ban on
native
wildlife
*Western
Australia, AU
Hunting
ban on
duck and
quail
*South Australia,
AU
Banned during duck
season, 1998
*Northern
Territory, AU
Banned in hunting
reserves, 1998
*Queensland,
AU
2001
Banned at three
sites
Hunting
ban on
duck and
quail, 2005
*Tasmania, AU
*New South
Wales, AU
Ban for duck
hunting
Hunting
ban on
duck
*Victoria, AU
Banned for duck
hunting, 1993
Denmark
1985
Ban on
the import
of lead
ammunition,
2000
Belgium
Banned in Ramsar
sites, 1993
"AVERY"AND"WATSON"‐"
4
Country
or State
Recommended
use of nontoxic
shot
Partial ban on lead
shot
Partial ban on lead
ammunition
Ban on all
forms of
lead
ammunition
Ban on
hunting
Nontoxic
shot re-
gulations
in add-
ition to
Federal
Canada
Cyprus
Finland
France
Germany
1993
Ban in 10 states
Ghana
Hunting
ban in
wetlands
and
irrigation
sites
Hungary
India
All hunting
banned
Israel
Most
wetlands
closed to
hunting–
must use
lead shot
Italy
Japan
Partial ban on lead
ammunition for deer, 2000
Kenya
Latvia
Banned in wetland
SPA’s, 2000
Liberia
Malaysia
Date unknown
"LEAD"AMMUNITION"REGULATION"‐"
5
Country
or State
Recommended
use of nontoxic
shot
Partial ban on lead
shot
Partial ban on lead
ammunition
Ban on all
forms of
lead
ammunition
Ban on
hunting
Nontoxic
shot re-
gulations
in add-
ition to
Federal
Malta
Banned in two
wetlands
Mauritania
Ban on all
lead for
large game
and sport
hunting
1975
Netherlands
Banned for clay pigeon
shooting, 2004
Norway
Poland
Recommended
Portugal
Russia
Some restrictions
for wetlands
South Africa
Partial ban on lead
shot for waterfowl
Spain
Banned in Ramsar
sites in 1994
Sweden
Banned for clay pigeon
shooting, 2002
2008
Switzerland
Great Britain
*England
Voluntary ban in
1995
*Scotland
*Wales
Banned in SSSI
wetlands 2002
New Zealand
10 or 12 gauge shot
banned, 2006
United States
*Tejon Ranch,
CA
2008
*Camp Roberts,
CA
2007
"AVERY"AND"WATSON"‐"
6
Country
or State
Recommended
use of nontoxic
shot
Partial ban on lead
shot
Partial ban on lead
ammunition
Ban on all
forms of
lead
ammunition
Ban on
hunting
Nontoxic
shot re-
gulations
in add-
ition to
Federal
*Alabama
*Alaska
Yes
*Arizona
*Arkansas
*California
Banned in Condor range
2008
Yes
*Colorado
*Connecticut
*Delaware
*Florida
*Georgia
*Hawaii
*Idaho
*Illinois
Yes
*Indiana
*Iowa
Yes
*Kansas
Yes
*Kentucky
Yes
*Louisiana
Yes
*Maine
Yes
*Maryland
Yes
*Massachusetts
Yes
*Michigan
Yes
*Minnesota
Yes
*Mississippi
*Missouri
Yes
*Montana
*Nebraska
Yes
"LEAD"AMMUNITION"REGULATION"‐"
7
Country
or State
Recommended
use of nontoxic
shot
Partial ban on lead
shot
Partial ban on lead
ammunition
Ban on all
forms of
lead
ammunition
Ban on
hunting
Nontoxic
shot re-
gulations
in add-
ition to
Federal
*Nevada
*New Hampshire
*New Jersey
Yes
*New Mexico
Yes
*New York
Yes
*North Carolina
Yes
*North Dakota
Yes
*Ohio
Yes
*Oklahoma
*Oregon
Yes
*Pennsylvania
*Rhode Island
*South Carolina
*South Dakota
Yes
*Tennessee
*Texas
*Utah
Yes
*Vermont
*Virginia
*Washington
Yes
*Wyoming
Yes
"AVERY"AND"WATSON"‐"
8
TABLE 2. Regulation of lead ammunition over time.
Date Country and type of regulation
1975 Mauritania hunting laws prohibit use of toxic ammunition for large game and sport hunting.
1980 Liberia bans lead shot due to military coup.
1985 Denmark hunters initiate use of nontoxic shot.
1989
1990
1991 USA bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
Norway bans lead shot in wetlands for hunting of all ducks, geese, and waders.
1992
1993 South Australia, Australia bans the use of lead shot.
Victoria, Australia bans the use of lead shot during duck season.
Denmark bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
Cyprus bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
Germany bans the use of lead shot over wetlands in 8 Lander and recommends voluntary use of nontoxic shot
over all wetlands.
Belgium bans the use of lead shot over Ramsar wetlands.
February-Netherlands bans the use of lead shot for hunting over wetlands.
1994
1995 Victoria, Australia bans the use of lead shot for duck hunting.
Netherlands bans the use of lead shot in all hunting.
UK instills voluntary use of nontoxic shot over wetlands.
1996 Denmark bans the use of lead shot in all hunting.
Finland bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
1997 Canada bans the use of lead shot for hunting migratory game birds near water.
1998 Switzerland bans the use of lead shot for hunting over wetlands and shallow water areas.
Belgium bans the use of lead shot over all wetlands.
Northern Territory, Australia bans the use of lead shot during duck season.
1999 England prohibits use of lead shot over wetlands and for all waterfowl.
Canada bans the use of lead shot for hunting all migratory game birds (with a few exceptions).
2000 Japan bans the use of lead bullets for deer hunting in Hokkaido.
Latvia bans the use of lead shot over wetland special protected areas.
Spain bans the use of lead shot at Ramsar sites.
Denmark bans the import of all lead products including ammunition.
2001 Queensland, Australia instills voluntary ban on the use of lead shot over wetlands.
1 June-Spain bans the use of lead shot over all wetlands.
2002 Sweden bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
Wales bans the use of lead shot over wetland sites of special scientific interest.
Sweden bans the use of lead shot for clay pigeons.
2003
2004 Netherlands bans the use of lead shot for clay pigeons.
Tasmania, Australia bans the use of lead shot over public wetlands and Crown Land.
2005 Hungary bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
31 March-Scotland bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
Norway bans the use of lead shot for all hunting.
2006 New Zealand bans 10 and 12 gauge shot for waterfowl near water.
France bans the use of lead shot over wetlands.
2007 Camp Roberts, California, USA bans all lead ammunition for hunting.
Fort Hunter Liggett, California, USA bans lead ammunition for hunting.
2008 Tejon Ranch, California, USA bans all lead ammunition for hunting.
Camp Roberts, California, USA bans use of all lead shot and ammunition for hunting.
California, USA bans the use of lead ammunition when taking big game and coyotes in the California Condor
range in California.
Sweden enacts a total ban on lead shot and ammunition.
Belgium considers a total ban on the use of lead shot.
Portugal proposes a ban on the use of lead shot in wetlands.
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... In total, 33 countries have implemented some level of restriction on lead ammunition, with the majority of these restrictions enacted for the protection of waterfowl and wetlands (Stroud 2015). Australia has a number of hunting regulations, and along with New Zealand imposes restrictions on certain types or uses of lead shot (Avery and Watson 2009). Several African countries also have hunting regulations, with Mauritania setting the example in 1975 by prohibiting the use of lead ammunition for large game and sport hunting (Avery and Watson 2009). ...
... Australia has a number of hunting regulations, and along with New Zealand imposes restrictions on certain types or uses of lead shot (Avery and Watson 2009). Several African countries also have hunting regulations, with Mauritania setting the example in 1975 by prohibiting the use of lead ammunition for large game and sport hunting (Avery and Watson 2009). South Africa has a regulation prohibiting the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting (Avery and Watson 2009). ...
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Australia bans the use of lead shot
  • South Australia
South Australia, Australia bans the use of lead shot.
Australia bans the use of lead shot for duck hunting. Netherlands bans the use of lead shot in all hunting. UK instills voluntary use of nontoxic shot over wetlands
  • Victoria
Victoria, Australia bans the use of lead shot for duck hunting. Netherlands bans the use of lead shot in all hunting. UK instills voluntary use of nontoxic shot over wetlands.
Australia instills voluntary ban on the use of lead shot over wetlands
  • Queensland
Queensland, Australia instills voluntary ban on the use of lead shot over wetlands.
USA bans all lead ammunition for hunting
  • Camp Roberts
Camp Roberts, California, USA bans all lead ammunition for hunting. Fort Hunter Liggett, California, USA bans lead ammunition for hunting.