ArticlePDF Available

Availability and prices of non-lead gunshot cartridges in the European retail market

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

To analyse those factors that inhibit or facilitate the shift from lead to non-lead ammunition, it is important to evaluate the extent to which hunters can purchase suitable non-lead products. Based on an Internet search, we identified 22 European and 6 North American manufactures of non-lead shot cartridges distributed in 10 different countries. During the web search, we found non-lead shot cartridges available in retail stores with online sales of these products in 22 of 29 European countries. The most common non-lead shot type was steel shot, although bismuth, tungsten and copper were available in some countries. We conclude that non-lead shot cartridges are available to purchasers in most European countries, but in a limited variety. Availability of non-lead ammunition is not limited by production but by the demand at the national, regional, and local levels. Multiple manufacturers provide such ammunition, and their products may become available in any member state, regionally and locally, once the demand is established. The collective experience of Denmark, Canada, and the USA indicate that the demand for non-lead products will be stimulated by any intergovernmental initiatives to regulate lead ammunition for hunting and target shooting, especially when such initiatives are accomplished through well-enforced national regulation.
Content may be subject to copyright.
LEAD USE IN HUNTING
Availability and prices of non-lead gunshot cartridges
in the European retail market
Niels Kanstrup , Vernon G. Thomas
Received: 26 September 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 17 January 2019 / Published online: 20 March 2019
Abstract To analyse those factors that inhibit or facilitate
the shift from lead to non-lead ammunition, it is important
to evaluate the extent to which hunters can purchase
suitable non-lead products. Based on an Internet search, we
identified 22 European and 6 North American
manufactures of non-lead shot cartridges distributed in 10
different countries. During the web search, we found non-
lead shot cartridges available in retail stores with online
sales of these products in 22 of 29 European countries. The
most common non-lead shot type was steel shot, although
bismuth, tungsten and copper were available in some
countries. We conclude that non-lead shot cartridges are
available to purchasers in most European countries, but in a
limited variety. Availability of non-lead ammunition is not
limited by production but by the demand at the national,
regional, and local levels. Multiple manufacturers provide
such ammunition, and their products may become available
in any member state, regionally and locally, once the
demand is established. The collective experience of
Denmark, Canada, and the USA indicate that the demand
for non-lead products will be stimulated by any
intergovernmental initiatives to regulate lead ammunition
for hunting and target shooting, especially when such
initiatives are accomplished through well-enforced national
regulation.
Keywords Ammunition Availability Demand
Gunshot Non-lead Steel
INTRODUCTION
A successful phase-out of lead shotgun ammunition for all
types of hunting requires that lead-free alternative types of
cartridges be available to hunters. Several types of non-lead
gunshot have been developed, manufactured and made
available at the retail level (Kanstrup et al. 2018; Thomas
2019). However, the extent of the availability of the different
products varies, depending on the demand at national and
local levels. Demand is regulation driven. Partial and poorly
enforced regulations have weak impact, whereas full regu-
lation stimulates availability. Poor availability may result in
non-compliance with regulations. Also hunters inclined to
use non-lead shot types may keep using lead ammunition
because they cannot readily purchase non-lead products.
To analyse those factors that inhibit or facilitate the shift
from lead to non-lead products, it is important to evaluate
the extent to which hunters can purchase suitable non-lead
shot cartridges.
In this study, we assessed ‘‘product availability’’ as
defined by Thomas (2013) by identifying ammunition
manufacturers that produce non-lead shotgun ammunition
and ‘‘market availability’’ (Thomas 2013) by compiling a
list of non-lead cartridges brands available in retail gun and
ammunition stores in 29 European countries. This was
combined with a comparison of prices of non-lead and
traditional lead shot cartridges.
METHOD
The method used for the evaluation was based on Internet
searches, primarily using Google. We presumed that most
available ammunition is marketed via the Internet. We
realize that this is complicated as many local retailers will
advertise the ammunition obtainable face-to-face from
their outlets. Also, orders delivered remotely over the
Internet to purchasers are complicated by firearms licens-
ing, shipping, and delivery regulations that differ among
countries. However, marketing of products may be Internet
ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019
www.kva.se/en 123
Ambio 2019, 48:1039–1043
https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01151-8
based despite the actual purchase of ammunition being
local and based on the single gun shop. An Internet survey
is, therefore, indicative of the product availability. We
spent a minimum of 30 min per country on searching and
investigated at least five online ammunition shops per
country. However, the results must be regarded as a
minimal assessment, given the inherent limits of this
methodology.
One part was an Internet search of product catalogues
found online at web pages of members of AFEMS
1
(As-
sociation of European Manufacturers of Sporting Ammu-
nition) and other companies. Another part of the study was
a search using the words ‘‘hunting cartridges’’, ‘‘steel
shot’’, ‘‘bismuth shot’’, ‘‘tungsten shot’’, ‘‘gun store’’,
‘online’’, and ‘‘web shop’’ translated into national lan-
guages of the countries in question. Words were used
solely or in combination. We made this type of search in 29
European countries. This resulted in hits of retail-level
webshops which showed a similar appearance in most
countries. The number of brands (i.e. manufacturer’s name)
of non-lead cartridges and variety of shot types were used
to assess the market availability in the different countries.
Various search engines including Google offer facilities
for direct translation of webpages’ texts (into English).
Thus, it was possible to decipher website content including
information on non-lead ammunition brands for retail sale
in most European countries, despite the variety of lan-
guages encountered. Results were recorded in terms of
cartridge brand and type (hunting, clay target, low velocity,
high velocity etc.), shot type, load weight (if available) and
price. Price was assessed from gauge 12/70 cartridges with
a 30–32 g load and calculated on the basis of 25 cartridges,
i.e. the normal quantity of cartridges in one ‘‘box’’. A
sample of prices for lead shot cartridges was included for
comparison.
RESULTS
We identified 22 European manufactures of non-lead shot
cartridges distributed among the following 8 countries:
Italy (6), UK (4), France (4), Spain (4), Sweden (1), Ger-
many (1), Poland (1), and Czech Rep. (1). All companies
had a steel shot line, some with a wide selection of gauges
and loads. Bismuth shot cartridges were produced by two,
copper by two, and zinc by one company (Table 1). In
addition, six North American manufacturers produced non-
lead cartridges. One (Kent Cartridge) had specialized in
this type of non-lead cartridge and was directly affiliated
with a British company (Gamebore). The 28 manufactur-
ers, including the six North American companies, had
agencies in most European countries; hence, their products,
including lead-free ammunition, were available, or could
easily become available in any region or country, subject to
demand.
The web search for retail ammunition stores with online
sales in the 29 European countries showed that all had
online services for retail sale of hunting accessories,
including shotgun ammunition. We found non-lead
products available in 22 countries (Table 1). The number of
available cartridge brands per country varied considerably:
from 16 in Denmark, 8 in Finland, 7 in the UK, 4 in
Germany, and only one in 11 of the investigated countries.
We failed to identify any online retail sale of non-lead
shotgun cartridges in seven countries, which had website
shops listing a wide selection of lead shot shotgun car-
tridges: these included Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and
Spain, all of which have bans on wetland or waterbird
hunting with lead shot. This may seem anomalous, but
suggests that hunters rely on non-web outlets for their
purchases if wishing to comply with national regulations.
In Ireland, Poland, and Romania (all countries with no
regulation of lead ammunition), we did not find non-lead
cartridges available online. However, in Greece where
there is also no regulation, one online shop offered two
types of steel shot. The most common non-lead shot type
was steel shot, although bismuth, tungsten, and copper shot
were available in some countries (Table 1).
There were large differences among the prices of the
shot types. Table 2shows average prices of the five types
that were identified.
Tungsten shot was by far the most expensive type of
non-lead shot. Steel shot cartridges are available at much
lower prices, approximately the same as equivalent, high-
quality lead shot cartridges, which correspond with the
findings of Thomas (2015). A given product may occur at
different prices in different countries, an example being
ELEY VIP Bismuth (12/67) 32 g, which costs 60 Euros per
25 pcs. in Norway and 38 Euros per 25 pcs. in the UK.
One overall result is that lead-free shotgun cartridges are
available in most countries from retail shops with online
service, apart from countries with no regulations. However,
more qualitatively, the survey showed that the product
range of lead-free ammunition in countries with partial
regulations of lead shot (wetlands/waterbirds) was very
restricted compared to lead shot brands. Furthermore, non-
lead types were not prominently displayed on most web-
sites, often on the last page of several pages displaying lead
products, and often grouped as ‘‘special loads’’. It is likely
that some of the investigated gun stores may offer non-lead
shot if particularly requested, but due to low interest from
their customers did not display it on their web shops.
1
http://www.afems.org/.
123 ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019
www.kva.se/en
1040 Ambio 2019, 48:1039–1043
DISCUSSION
The study has not evaluated to what degree traditional
advertisement and retail sale of hunting ammunition from
online stores differs among European countries, and
therefore results from different countries may not be
comparable. However, the fact that online sale of hunting
accessories was offered to some degree in all 29 investi-
gated countries indicates that the methodology is valid for
assessing the availability of non-lead products. The web
searches were conducted more intensively for those coun-
tries with no lead shot regulation, i.e. Greece, Ireland,
Poland, and Romania. Except for Greece, it was not pos-
sible to identify non-lead gunshot available for sale, despite
all these countries listing lead shot cartridges from different
manufacturers. Thus, Poland has its own manufacturer of
non-lead cartridges (FAM Pionki), which exports non-lead
products to other markets. Among the countries with partial
bans, only the UK and Germany were shown to have many
different brands, and the general picture is that countries
with partial bans have a rather limited availability of non-
lead products. This is in contrast to the number of com-
panies making non-lead shot in some of those countries:
e.g. Italy 6, France 4, and Spain 4. Although we identified
four companies in Spain making non-lead cartridges, and
despite Spain having a ban on lead shot use in its wetlands,
no website indicated the availability of non-lead cartridges
for sale. Due to the long-lasting and well-established ban
on lead shot for both hunting and target shooting, Denmark
showed the most diverse selection of non-lead ammunition
with the highest variety of brands, gauges, loads, and shot
sizes, based mainly on steel products.
The identification of 28 manufacturers of non-lead shot
lines in Europe and North America demonstrates that the
availability of non-lead ammunition is not limited by
technologies or production potential. The results also show
that some European makers of non-lead cartridges are
actively engaged in export of their products, especially to
the USA, Canada, and Denmark, where a well-established
demand exists. The similar prices for lead shot and steel
shot products demonstrate that production costs are not
limiting availability. This emphasizes the point that avail-
ability is driven mainly by demand at national, regional,
and local levels, as also concluded in other studies. For
instance, the UK LAG (Lead Ammunition Group) (2015)
concluded ‘the variety and performance of non-lead
ammunition will, if demand exists, improve to meet
demand’. Also, Thomas (2015) found that manufacturers
Table 1 Manufacture of non-lead shotgun cartridges and availability
hereof in the 29 European countries that were subject to Internet
search
Country Regulation
of lead shot
for
hunting
a
Number of
non-lead
cartridge
manufacturers
identified
Number
of non-
lead
cartridge
brands
identified
Non-
lead shot
types
available
Austria x 1 S
Belgium x 1 S, B
Bulgaria x 1 S
Czech Rep. x 1 1 S
Croatia x 0 –
Denmark xx 16 S, B, T
Estonia x 1 S
Finland x 8 S, B, C
France x 4 3 S
Germany x 1 4 S, B
Greece 2 S
Hungary x 1 S
Iceland 1 S
Ireland 0 –
Italy x 6 1 S
Latvia x 2 S
Lithuania x 2 S
Luxemburg x 2 S
Malta x 1 S
Norway x 2 S, B
Poland 1 0 –
Portugal x 1 S, B, T
Romania – 0
Slovakia x 0 –
Slovenia x 0 –
Spain x 4 0 –
Sweden x 1 1 S, B
The Netherlands xx 4 S
UK x 4 7 S, B, T
a
No regulation, x =ban of lead shot in wetlands/waterbird hunting,
xx =total ban of lead shot
Ssteel shot, Bbismuth shot, Ttungsten shot, Ccopper shot, – none
Table 2 Average prices of shot types in retail sale identified in the
Internet search in 29 European countries
Type N
a
Price Euro/25 pcs
Average Range
b
Steel 36 11.90 7.50–25.25
Bismuth 8 57.81 42.25–60.00
Tungsten 2 85.00 79.25–90.00
Copper 3 37.28 21.50–41.25
Lead 25 10.45 6.50–18.25
a
Number of web shops,
b
rounded up to nearest quarter Euro
ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019
www.kva.se/en 123
Ambio 2019, 48:1039–1043 1041
in Europe make and distribute cartridges according to
hunters’ demands, which, in turn, are driven by regulations.
The production price of a shotgun cartridge consists
basically of three elements: costs of component materials,
costs of construction of components, and costs of assem-
bling the components into a cartridge (loading). This
applies to lead as well as non-lead products. In terms of the
shell, primer, wad, and powder, there are no significant
differences between production costs. Nor is the loading
process different, though some components of the
machinery may be modified and adjusted to change from
one type to another. Hence, the main driver for production
price differences is the price of shot material combined
with shot manufacture. We found the following current
approximate prices for metals on world markets by Internet
search: Lead: 2 Euro/kg; Iron: 0.07 Euro/kg; Bismuth: 20
Euro/kg; and Tungsten (powder): 40?Euro/kg. Prices are
dependent on market forces, purity, etc. and therefore only
indicative of the raw material costs for shot types. How-
ever, the figure that bismuth is 10-fold more expensive than
lead, but at the same time, that lead is 30-fold more
expensive than iron, explains why bismuth shot cartridges
are much more expensive than lead and steel shot car-
tridges. It also demonstrates that prices of bismuth (and
tungsten) shot will not fall to levels comparable to lead and
steel. Secondly, the prices indicate a potential for steel shot
to be significantly cheaper than lead shot if the costs of
making steel shot can be reduced. However, this has not yet
been demonstrated in the retail sale prices of loaded car-
tridges in Europe and North America. We investigated
further retail prices of bulk lead and steel shot being
offered in stores to hand loaders of cartridges and found no
appreciable difference (lead shot approx. 3 Euro/kilo
2
; steel
shot approx. 4 Euro/kilo
3
). The reason why the much lower
price of raw iron compared to raw lead is not reflected in
more pronounced differences in shot prices is related to
processing technologies,
4
energy consumption, production
volumes, market demand, and transport. Production of lead
shot is a traditional technology in many European cartridge
manufactory companies, whereas the production of steel
shot is based almost exclusively on Chinese manufacture.
Hence, the economic and technological conditions vary
greatly. A detailed survey of this situation lies beyond the
scope of this study. However, we believe that an increased
demand for steel shot, driven for instance by European
Union regulations as prepared by REACH
5
(Registration,
Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals),
and thus an increased production volume would gradually
influence the production price, and could lower prices
further in the long term. Another factor affecting the car-
tridge price is the cartridge gauge and the relative market
demand for gauges different from the normal 12 gauge.
This explains why smaller gauges, for instance 20 gauge
cartridges in both lead and non-lead varieties, cost more
than equivalent 12 gauge cartridges, despite the lesser
content of gunpowder, shot and other components. A
manufacturer will require a single production run of about
one million cartridges to justify the costs of switching the
manufacturing equipment settings, product testing for
quality assurances, and packaging set-up (Cove, R. per-
sonal communication
6
). Understandably, demand has a
major effect on price as well as availability of lesser-used
cartridge types, both lead and non-lead.
Wholesale and retail prices of cartridges will basically
depend on production prices, but will also, and to a very
high degree, be influenced of volume of production,
transport costs and other basic factors. In particular, the
profit margins of producers, taxes, and export duties
influence the prices paid by the hunter. One example of this
is the UK-made product ELEY VIP Bismuth cal. 12/67
(shot size 3.2 mm, 32 g) which is listed on the webpage of
a British supplier at less than two thirds of the price in
Norway. This shows that the price of a given cartridge may
differ significantly depending on impact of market demand
and other costs in addition to production cost.
CONCLUSION
Since concerns about dispersal of hunting lead shot in
wetlands and the fatal lead poisoning of birds were raised
in Europe in the 1960s, and earlier in the USA, several non-
lead and approved non-toxic shot types have been devel-
oped and produced commercially. Steel shot cartridges are
produced by most European manufacturers (in this study
sample, all 22 companies). Steel is the by far the cheapest,
most widely used, and most available alternative. However,
some European manufacturers have lines of other non-lead
products, including bismuth and tungsten shot cartridges.
In addition, North American manufacturers distribute via
2
http://www.cabelas.com/.
3
http://www.huntinglife.net/.
4
Lead shot is made traditionally by dropping molten lead through
sieves into cold water from a great height in shot towers, or by the
‘bleimeister method’’ where molten lead is dripped from small
orifices into a hot liquid, followed by rolling along an incline to
remove out-of-round pellets. Steel shot is made by hammering small
pieces of low-carbon iron wire into spheres of desired diameter
followed by softening (annealing) the shot in furnaces. These
processes are energy intensive and more time consuming than
traditional lead shot making.
5
https://echa.europa.eu/da/-/echa-identifies-risks-to-terrestrial-
environment-from-lead-ammunition.
6
Personal communication: R. Cove, CEO, Kent Cartridge, Mark-
ham, Canada.
123 ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019
www.kva.se/en
1042 Ambio 2019, 48:1039–1043
their agencies a variety of non-lead ammunition types in
Europe, thus expanding product availability.
The web shop surveys in this study demonstrated that
non-lead shot cartridges are available to purchasers in most
European countries, but in a limited variety. Stocks of non-
lead ammunition held in local retail shops may be very
limited in variety and quantity, specification and brand.
Hence, a small-scale local purchaser may not be able to
purchase what might be best suited for his/her needs.
It is well established that the availability of non-lead
ammunition is first and foremost limited by the demand at
the national, regional, and local level. Multiple manufac-
turers currently provide such ammunition and their prod-
ucts are available, or can easily become available in any
member state, regionally and locally, once the demand is
there. This is demonstrated clearly by the Danish example,
and the US situation since 1991. The demand for non-lead
products will be stimulated by any intergovernmental ini-
tiatives to regulate lead ammunition for hunting and target
shooting, especially when such initiatives are accomplished
through well-enforced national regulation.
Acknowledgements We thank colleagues and reviewers for helpful
comments on an earlier text. Funding was provided by the personal
financial resources of the authors.
REFERENCES
Kanstrup, N., J. Swift, D.A. Stroud, and M. Lewis. 2018. Hunting
with Lead Ammunition is not Sustainable: European Perspec-
tives. Ambio.https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1042-y.
Lead Ammunition Group. 2015. Lead Ammunition, Wildlife and
Human Health. A report prepared for the Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards
Agency in the United Kingdom.
Thomas, V.G. 2013. Lead-Free Hunting Rifle Ammunition: Product
Availability, Price, Effectiveness, and Role in Global Wildlife
Conservation. Ambio 42: 737–745. https://doi.org/10.1007/
s13280-012-0361-7.
Thomas V.G. 2015. Availability and use of lead-free shotgun and rifle
cartridges in the UK, with reference to regulations in other
jurisdictions. In Proceedings of the Oxford Lead Symposium. Lead
ammunition: Understanding and minimizing the risks to human
and environmental health, ed. R.J. Delahay, and C.J. Spray, 85–98.
Oxford: The Edward Grey Institute. http://www.oxford
leadsymposium.info/wp-content/uploads/OLS_proceedings/
papers/OLS_proceedings_thomas.pdf.
Thomas, V.G. 2019. Chemical compositional standards for non-lead
hunting ammunition and fishing weights. In Lead in hunting
ammunition: Persistent problems and solutions, eds.
N. Kanstrup, V.G. Thomas, and A.D. Fox, Ambio vol. 48,
Special Issue. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1124-x.
Publisher’s Note
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affiliations.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES
Niels Kanstrup (&) is a biologist, scientist and hunter. His research
program in focused on sustainability of hunting with emphasis on
dispersal of ammunition components in the natural environment,
particularly the impact of ammunition lead.
Address: Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Kalø, Gre-
na
˚vej 14, 8410 Rønde, Denmark.
e-mail: nk@bios.au.dk
Vernon G. Thomas is a Professor Emeritus specializing in the
transfer of scientific knowledge to conservation policy and law,
especially in the issue of lead exposure and toxicity in wildlife and
humans.
Address: Department of Integrative Biology, College of Biological
Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.
e-mail: vthomas@uoguelph.ca
ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019
www.kva.se/en 123
Ambio 2019, 48:1039–1043 1043
... All these claims have been studied and refuted [28]. Thus, non-lead shot cartridges and rifle ammunition are available for purchase in most European countries [29][30][31], but the product range of lead-free shotgun ammunition in countries with partial regulations is restricted compared to lead shot brands [31]. These studies concluded that availability of nonlead ammunition is not limited by production, but by demand at the national, regional, and local levels. ...
... All these claims have been studied and refuted [28]. Thus, non-lead shot cartridges and rifle ammunition are available for purchase in most European countries [29][30][31], but the product range of lead-free shotgun ammunition in countries with partial regulations is restricted compared to lead shot brands [31]. These studies concluded that availability of nonlead ammunition is not limited by production, but by demand at the national, regional, and local levels. ...
... North American and European national and regional regulative demands for the use of non-lead shotgun and rifle ammunition in hunting from the mid-1980s to the present [33], have forced industry to develop substitutes for lead-based ammunition. Manufacturers have been successful in this quest, and there is now a range of nonlead types of shotgun and rifle ammunition suited for all categories of European hunting and target shooting [29,31]. 4 It is important to note that any species of game that may be hunted with lead-based shotgun or rifle ammunition can be hunted successfully with non-lead equivalents. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Hunting throughout the European Union (EU) has left an accumulating legacy of spent lead ammunition that has deleterious toxic effects upon the environment, wildlife, and humans who consume hunted game meat. Non-toxic lead substitutes for both rifle and shotgun ammunition have been developed and are required in some EU jurisdictions. Within the EU, at least 28 companies make or distribute non-lead shotgun ammunition, and a further 14 companies distribute non-lead rifle ammunition. However, a broad transition to the use of these products has been resisted by the hunting and ammunition-making communities. Results and conclusions It is in the self-interest of these communities to recognize the consequences of externalizing the effects of spent lead ammunition to society, and to make hunting more sustainable and socially acceptable. The paper endorses the ongoing process under the European Commission (EC) to introduce wide and fundamental restrictions on the use, trade and possession of lead ammunition for all types of hunting within 3 years, and within 5 years for clay target shooting. This would align EC regulations on lead from ammunition with lead from other anthropogenic sources, and EC regulations that protect the natural environment, especially the conservation of wild birds. Simultaneous EC regulation of lead in marketed game meats would provide extra health protection and assure a safe source of game meat products for consumers.
... We fitted logistic regression models to a dataset which included the results from Denmark of Clausen and Wolstrup (1979) and all other countries, but not those from . This set of results is uniform in that it comes from countries where the use of lead shotgun ammunition for hunting is allowed by law (Mateo and Kanstrup, 2019) and where the majority of such ammunition used is composed of lead (Kanstrup and Thomas, 2019). We then used the logistic regression model fitted to this dataset to calculate the numbers of raptors with clinical levels of lead in the liver in the samples of Kanstrup et al., 2019 obtained after lead shotgun ammunition was banned in Denmark which would have been expected there if the ban had not occurred. ...
Article
Poisoning caused by ingestion of spent lead (Pb) ammunition in food items is a common cause of death of raptors. However, there has been no previous attempt to assess the impact of lead poisoning on populations of raptors throughout Europe or examine how this relates to the prevalence of hunting. We used measurements of lead concentration in the liver from over 3000 raptors of 22 species found dead or dying in the wild in 13 countries and a lead poisoning threshold of 20 ppm (dry weight) to assess the proportion of these in which lead poisoning caused or contributed to death. The prevalence of lead poisoning as a cause of death of raptors varied substantially among European countries and was positively correlated across countries with the reported number of hunters per unit area. Ten species had a non-zero proportion of individuals with concentrations exceeding the lead poisoning threshold ranging between 0.3% and 16.5%. The estimated annual conditional death rate from lead poisoning for these ten species averaged 0.44% (range 0.06–0.85%). Scavenging species feeding regularly on carcasses of game animals,tended to have a high annual probability of death from lead poisoning. So too did some predators which only sometimes scavenge, but prey on frequently hunted birds, such as gamebirds, waterfowl and pigeons, which may contain ingested or embedded lead shot. Small-bodied predators had a low annual probability of death from lead poisoning. Modelling indicated that European populations of adult raptors of the ten focal species averaged 6.0% smaller (range 0.2–14.4%) than they would be without the effects of lead poisoning. A given rate of lead poisoning mortality resulted in greater expected population reductions for species with high annual survival rate and late age at first breeding.
... We emphasise that, apart from the soldering iron test, these qualitative tests were used only to determine whether all pellets collected from the same carcass had similar characteristics and not to identify the principal metal type. In the second phase, pellets were analysed individually using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometer (ICP-AES; Varian 720ES with SPS3 autosampler) to identify the principal metallic elements of which they were composed (elements in use are lead, tungsten, bismuth, iron, and copper (Kanstrup & Thomas 2019)). The methods are described in detail by Green et al. (2021). ...
Article
Full-text available
In 2020, nine major UK shooting and rural organisations proposed a voluntary transition from the use for hunting of lead shotgun ammunition to non-lead alternatives. The major food retailer Waitrose & Partners has announced its intention to move to not supplying game meat products from animals killed using any kind of lead ammunition and the National Game Dealers Association announced a plan for a similar policy to be implemented in 2022. The SHOT-SWITCH research project, which is intended to monitor the progress of these voluntary initiatives, began in the 2020/2021 shooting season. The project monitors changes in the proportions of wild-shot common pheasants Phasianus colchicus available to consumers in Great Britain that had been killed using lead and non-lead shotgun ammunition, as assessed by using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry to identify the composition of shotgun pellets recovered from carcasses. In 2020/2021, 99.4% of the pheasants sampled had been killed using lead ammunition. We report here further results from this study for the 2021/2022 season. We found that 99.5% of the 215 pheasants from which shotgun pellets were recovered had been killed using lead ammunition. We conclude that the shooting and rural organisations’ joint statement and two years of their considerable efforts in education, awareness-raising and promotion, have not yet had a detectable effect on the ammunition types used by hunters who supply pheasants to the British game meat market.
... Hence, there seems to be a large potential to improve the communication of information about the transition from lead to non-lead rifle ammunition including detailed information covering the specific concerns of hunters all of which have been thoroughly covered by research of direct relevance to Danish hunters [34]. This applies to the efficacy of non-lead bullets investigated in Northern Europe including Germany [35], Scandinavia [14] and Denmark [13] availability [36,37] including availability on the Danish retail market where a wide range of leadfree rifle ammunition is already available to suit most Danish hunting applications [19]. In terms of the overall budget of hunters, the cost of ammunition plays a minor role. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Lead particles from hunting rifle ammunition become embedded in the tissue of shot animals and pose a health risk to predators and scavengers that eat discarded offal or parts of non-retrieved carcasses of shot game animals, as well as to humans who consume game. Copper and copper–zinc alloys are the most widely used alternatives to leaded ammunition. In Denmark, there has been a growing awareness of the toxic environmental effects of lead ammunition and the Danish government, supported by the Danish Hunters’ Association, announced in November 2020 a forthcoming ban on the use of lead-based bullets for hunting purposes intended to take effect in 2023. The question that remains to be addressed is how the Danish hunting community perceives lead ammunition as a problem and non-lead alternatives as a solution, and whether the willingness to change demonstrated by the hunters’ representatives reflects the attitude of the individual hunters. We studied this in a survey targeting 6000 randomly selected Danish rifle hunters, mapping their knowledge and concerns regarding lead rifle ammunition as well as their use of lead and non-lead ammunition. Results We found that approximately one-fifth of the use of rifle ammunition for hunting in Denmark in 2019 was non-lead. Hunters’ knowledge of and concern for the adverse impacts of lead ammunition and the opportunities to switch to non-lead alternatives were generally limited. However, some showed an open-minded attitude and we found that such knowledge and concern increased the likelihood of hunters deciding to use non-lead ammunition. Hunters mainly got their information from hunting organizations and colleagues and expressed a distinct lack of information and guidance on the topic from ministerial authorities responsible for hunting administration. Conclusions Some hunters have already changed to use non-lead rifle ammunition completely or in part, and others show an open attitude to discussing the issue and receiving more information particularly from hunting authorities. Some hunters demonstrated a critical or negative attitude towards a change. Communication of the adverse impacts of leaded ammunition in terms of the risk of lead poisoning to wildlife and humans and the opportunities of switching to the existing efficient and safe alternatives is essential regardless of the formal approach and will be crucial for the effectiveness of the regulation announced by the Danish government.
... Lead hunting ammunition is the main source of poisoning, as proved by the higher lead concentrations we found in birds with ingested lead ammunition or embedded lead shot. Since ammunition based on alternative materials has been demonstrated to be effective, is widely available on the market, and with comparable prices (Thomas, 2015;Thomas et al., 2016;Kanstrup and Thomas, 2019), a rapid transition towards lead-free bullets and gunshot should be promoted. The introduction of a restriction under REACH that applies to all European countries is the most effective and appropriate measure in order to achieve this transition (Treu et al., 2020). ...
Article
Lead poisoning from spent ammunition is known to affect many avian species. Birds of prey ingest lead when feeding on game shot with lead gunshot or bullets. Raptors with scavenging habits are particularly vulnerable to ingesting lead in areas with intensive hunting and are good indicators of the risk of poisoning from lead ammunition. To assess how much facultative and obligate avian scavengers suffer lead contamination in south-central Europe, between 2005 and 2019 we collected and analysed 595 tissue samples from 252 carcasses of 4 species (golden eagle, bearded vulture, griffon vulture, cinereous vulture). Lead concentrations in organs showed a similar pattern across species with long and small bones revealing the highest median values (5.56 and 6.8 mg/kg w.w., respectively), the brain the lowest (0.12), and the liver and kidney the intermediate (0.47 and 0.284). Overall, 111 individuals (44.0%) had lead concentrations above background thresholds in at least one tissue (i.e. >2 mg/kg w.w. in soft tissues, >8.33 in bone) and 66 (26.2%) had values indicating clinical poisoning (>6 mg/kg w.w. in liver, >4 in kidney, >16.6 in bone). Tissue lead concentrations and incidence of clinical and sub-clinical poisoning were higher in golden eagles and griffon vultures than in bearded and cinereous vultures, likely due to different feeding habits. In all species we found a rapid increase in lead values with age, but differences between age classes were significant only in the golden eagle. Birds with lead fragments in their digestive tract, as detected by X-rays, had higher median lead concentrations, suggesting that hunting ammunition is the main source of lead poisoning. Our results imply that lead impacts the demography of these long-lived species with delayed sexual maturity and low reproduction rate. A rapid transition towards lead-free bullets and gunshot is therefore required across Europe.
... Sonne et al. 2019). Thomas (2015), Kanstrup and Thomas (2019) and Kanstrup and Thomas (2020) suggest there is no financial or availability barrier to switching to alternatives to lead ammunition such as steel, tungsten, bismuth or copper. In the UK, the British Game Alliance of shooting industry organisations have issued a joint statement committing to the voluntary phasing out of the use of lead ammunition and single-use plastics in shotgun cartridges by 2025 19 . ...
... Arizona big-game hunters had similar concerns about ballistic performance of nonlead ammunition, difficulty finding it in stores, ambiguous packaging, perceived firearms damage, greater nonlead costs, and less effectiveness killing deer (Chase & Rabe, 2015). Similar concerns have also been expressed for big-game hunting (Kanstrup & Thomas, 2019;Ross-Winslow, 2013;Stake, 2019;Thomas, 2013) and small game hunting (Belanger & Kinnane, 2002;Case & Associates, 2014;Pierce et al., 2015;. Also, nonhunters, nonlead users, and likely nonlead users from this survey more strongly agreed about socio-economic factors of nonlead ammunition than their counterparts. ...
Article
Hunting is a popular activity but continued use of lead ammunition poses risks to wildlife and human health. To inform adoption of the voluntary use of nonlead ammunition, natural resource professionals were surveyed to understand their attitudes about threats to bald eagles, lead poisoning in bald eagles, human health risks from lead bullet fragments in venison, use of nonlead hunting ammunition, and socio-economic nonlead ammunition factors. Differences were examined by hunter status, ammunition type used, and intentions to use nonlead ammunition. Of participants surveyed, 61.0% were hunters and 39.0% nonhunters, with 59.5% of hunters using lead ammunition and 40.5% using nonlead. Concurrently, 68.5% of hunters reported likely intentions to continue using nonlead or convert to nonlead in the future, while 31.5% reported nonlead use was unlikely. Also, some hunters currently using nonlead ammunition indicated they would unlikely continue using nonlead (17.8%). Nonhunters agreed more strongly than hunters regarding general mortality threats to bald eagles. Additionally, nonhunters, hunters using nonlead, and likely nonlead users more strongly agreed about threats of lead exposure to eagles than their counterparts. Nonhunters and likely nonlead users also more strongly agreed than hunters and unlikely nonlead users about the human health risks of lead ammunition and about shooting characteristics of nonlead. Finally, nonhunters and nonlead users agreed more strongly than their counterparts about the socio-economic factors of using nonlead ammunition. Understanding natural resource professional hunters’ attitudes may help with audience segmentation when designing future nonlead outreach messages. Management implications Among natural resource professionals, hunters are important in nonlead outreach programs, but results suggest nonhunters have greater understanding and awareness of the issues related to the effects of lead ammunition on the environment. Attitudes about lead poisoning and nonlead ammunition overlapped between hunters and nonhunters, suggesting the two groups are not mutually exclusive. A substantial proportion of nonlead hunters are likely to continue using it, but some indicated they might switch back to lead ammunition, suggesting a need to reinforce initial behavior. Hunters and nonhunters are both important target audiences for education and outreach programs.
... Cost and availability of nonlead ammunition were expressed as external factors beyond the influence of the agency. These factors have been reoccurring themes in other lead ammunition policy discussions (Chase and Rabe, 2015;Kanstrup and Thomas, 2019;Thomas, 2013). Cost and availability concerns can be challenging if spokespersons believe using nonlead will reduce hunting and shooting opportunities. ...
Article
Wildlife and human health are at risk of lead exposure from spent hunting ammunition. Lead exposure persists for bald eagles due to bullet fragments in game animal gut piles and unretrieved carcasses, and is also a human health risk when wild game is procured using lead ammunition. Programs encouraging the voluntary use of nonlead ammunition have become a popular approach mitigating these effects. This study explored attitudes and experiences of United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff implementing an outreach program encouraging deer hunters to voluntary use nonlead ammunition on 54 National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) in the Upper Midwest, U.S. to understand factors affecting program implementation. We conducted 29 semi-structured interviews of USFWS staff along with 60 responses from an open-ended survey question. Twelve themes emerged from the data and were grouped into three broad categories: (1) challenges of dealing with complex issues, (2) importance of messengers and messages, and (3) resistance from staff. Challenges of dealing with complex issues included administrative restraint and uncertainty, scope and scale of program, human health not an agency responsibility, contextual political influences, and public-private collaborations. Importance of messengers and messages included the importance of experience, and salience of human health risk. Finally, resistance from staff included skepticism of the science and motives behind the program, competing priorities for refuge staff, differing perceptions of regulatory and voluntary approaches, cost and availability of nonlead ammunition, and disregard by some about lead ammunition and human health risks. Staff identified numerous challenges implementing the program, many of which were external factors beyond the control of the participants. Understanding the factors affecting program implementation may help guide future efforts encouraging the voluntary use of nonlead ammunition.
Article
Full-text available
There are significant negative effects of exposure to spent lead ammunition on wildlife and human health. A joint statement was issued by nine UK shooting and rural organisations on 24th February 2020 intended to encourage a voluntary transition to non-lead shotgun ammunition within five years “in consideration of wildlife, the environment and to ensure a market for the healthiest game products”. We dissected carcasses of wild-shot common pheasants Phasianus colchicus sold or offered for human consumption in Britain in the shooting season between 1st October 2020 and 1st February 2021 to recover shotgun pellets. The principal metallic element composing one pellet from each bird was identified using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. The results showed that 99% of the 180 pheasants from which shotgun pellets were recovered had been killed using lead shotgun ammunition, compared with 100% in a much smaller study conducted in the 2008/2009 shooting season. We conclude that the shooting and rural organisations’ joint statement, and their subsequent promotional actions, have not yet had a detectable effect on the ammunition types used by shooters supplying pheasants to the British game market.
Article
Full-text available
There are significant negative effects of exposure to spent lead ammunition on wildlife and human health. A joint statement was issued by nine UK shooting and rural organisations on 24 th February 2020 intended to encourage a voluntary transition to non-lead shotgun ammunition within five years "in consideration of wildlife, the environment and to ensure a market for the healthiest game products". We dissected carcasses of wild-shot common pheasants Phasianus colchicus sold or offered for human consumption in Britain in the shooting season between 1 st October 2020 and 1 st February 2021 to recover shotgun pellets. The principal metallic element composing one pellet from each bird was identified using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. The results showed that 99% of the 180 pheasants from which shotgun pellets were recovered had been killed using lead shotgun ammunition, compared with 100% in a much smaller study conducted in the 2008/2009 shooting season. We conclude that the shooting and rural organisations' joint statement, and their subsequent promotional actions, have not yet had a detectable effect on the ammunition types used by shooters supplying pheasants to the British game market.
Article
Full-text available
The chemical composition of non-lead, non-toxic, gunshot used for hunting waterfowl is regulated only in Canada and the USA. No nation regulates the composition of non-lead fishing weights, rifle bullets, and gunshot used for upland game hunting. Compositional criteria for these non-lead products are proposed here, based on established experimental toxicity protocols. Because of the demonstrated acute toxicity of ingested zinc shot to birds, fishing weights and gunshot should never be made of this pure metal. Nickel should be avoided as an incidental component of gunshot because of potential carcinogenicity concerns about such embedded shot in birds and other animals. These compositional criteria could be adopted by all nations undertaking the transition to non-lead fishing weights and hunting ammunition. The listed criteria would facilitate production and international trade in non-lead products, and promote easier enforcement and user compliance with non-lead standards.
Article
Full-text available
Much evidence demonstrates the adverse effects of lead ammunition on wildlife, their habitats and human health, and confirms that the use of such ammunition has no place within sustainable hunting. We identify the provisions that define sustainable hunting according to European law and international treaties, together with their guidance documents. We accept the substantial evidence for lead’s actual and potential effects on wildlife, habitats and health as persuasive and assess how these effects relate to stated provisions for sustainability and hunting. We evaluate how continued use of lead ammunition negatively affects international efforts to halt loss of biodiversity, sustain wildlife populations and conserve their habitats. We highlight the indiscriminate and avoidable health and welfare impacts for large numbers of exposed wild animals as ethically unsustainable. In societal terms, continued use of lead ammunition undermines public perceptions of hunting. Given the existence of acceptable, non-toxic alternatives for lead ammunition, we conclude that hunting with lead ammunition cannot be justified under established principles of public/international policy and is not sustainable. Changing from lead ammunition to non-toxic alternatives will bring significant nature conservation and human health gains, and from the hunter’s perspective will enhance societal acceptance of hunting. Change will create opportunities for improved constructive dialogue between hunting stakeholders and others engaged with enhancing biodiversity and nature conservation objectives.
Article
Full-text available
Proposals to end the use of lead hunting ammunition because of the established risks of lead exposure to wildlife and humans are impeded by concerns about the availability, price, and effectiveness of substitutes. The product availability and retail prices of different calibers of lead-free bullets and center-fire rifle ammunition were assessed for ammunition sold in the USA and Europe. Lead-free bullets are made in 35 calibers and 51 rifle cartridge designations. Thirty-seven companies distribute internationally ammunition made with lead-free bullets. There is no major difference in the retail price of equivalent lead-free and lead-core ammunition for most popular calibers. Lead-free ammunition has set bench-mark standards for accuracy, lethality, and safety. Given the demonstrated wide product availability, comparable prices, and the effectiveness of high-quality lead-free ammunition, it is possible to phase out the use of lead hunting ammunition world-wide, based on progressive policy and enforceable legislation.
Availability and use of lead-free shotgun and rifle cartridges in the UK, with reference to regulations in other jurisdictions
  • V G Thomas
Thomas V.G. 2015. Availability and use of lead-free shotgun and rifle cartridges in the UK, with reference to regulations in other jurisdictions. In Proceedings of the Oxford Lead Symposium. Lead ammunition: Understanding and minimizing the risks to human and environmental health, ed. R.J. Delahay, and C.J. Spray, 85-98. Oxford: The Edward Grey Institute. http://www.oxford leadsymposium.info/wp-content/uploads/OLS_proceedings/ papers/OLS_proceedings_thomas.pdf.