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... These two threats are currently massively affecting the populations of European, African, and American scavengers. 1,2 The game meat trade furthermore commercializes thousands of tonnes of meat contaminated with lead, which adds a serious public health dimension to the issue. 2 Scientific evidence supports the view that the quasi-extinction of vertebrate mesofaunal elements, such as the California condor Gymnogyps californianus in America or the Bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus in Europe, has been largely caused by poisoning. ...
... 1,2 The game meat trade furthermore commercializes thousands of tonnes of meat contaminated with lead, which adds a serious public health dimension to the issue. 2 Scientific evidence supports the view that the quasi-extinction of vertebrate mesofaunal elements, such as the California condor Gymnogyps californianus in America or the Bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus in Europe, has been largely caused by poisoning. This calls for a rapid mitigation of the effects of toxicosis on wildlife, either intentional or unintentional. ...
... In Argentina, 6 million individuals of Lepus europaeus are hunted per year, 2.5 million of which are exported as food to Europe (Bonino et al. 2010). During hunting activities, a high percentage of wounded animals are not retrieved and die shortly after the hunt in the field (Lambertucci et al. 2010, Pain et al. 2010. The use of lead ammunition and the current lack of regulation in many countries could be inadvertently increasing lead availability for many species in the environment, in particular for scavenger species (Watson et al. 2009, Lambertucci et al. 2010. ...
... During hunting activities, a high percentage of wounded animals are not retrieved and die shortly after the hunt in the field (Lambertucci et al. 2010, Pain et al. 2010. The use of lead ammunition and the current lack of regulation in many countries could be inadvertently increasing lead availability for many species in the environment, in particular for scavenger species (Watson et al. 2009, Lambertucci et al. 2010. In fact, hunting activities have been shown to cause accumulation of lead in the environment and in the predators and humans that consume the leporids (Fisher et al. 2006, Wiemeyer et al. 2017. ...
Article
• Historically, humans have translocated some species of Leporidae (order Lagomorpha) around the world as an introduced food source and as game species. This family is now cosmopolitan and occupies areas where it did not previously exist. With the exception of European rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, evidence of the effects of these introduced species is scattered and in many cases anecdotal, though they share many biological traits with Oryctolagus cuniculus, one of the most harmful invasive species worldwide. • We review available studies on the 12 leporid species that have been introduced by humans to areas beyond their native ranges. Our aim is to describe and compare the species’ ecological roles in their native geographic ranges and in their exotic ranges. We review the species’ effects on the ecosystem at different levels of the trophic chain. We also evaluate the consequences of introductions for animal and human health, and their economic consequences, and we consider control measures. • In their native ranges, the 12 leporids are known to provide resources for other species, act as seed dispersers and ecosystem engineers, function as primary prey items for several predator species, and have many other functions. The effects of the leporids in their exotic geographic ranges are also conspicuous, and in many cases strongly negative, due to competition with native fauna and the facilitation of the presence of other invaders. Nonetheless, they constitute a food resource for native and exotic predators. As game species for humans, their hunting may indirectly impact the ecosystems by increasing the amount of lead in the environment. Moreover, they may be carriers of zoonotic diseases. • Conservation biologists should carefully consider the contrasting effects of the introduced leporids species in the ecosystem before developing any management strategy including these species.
... The use of non-lead rifle ammunition significantly reduced lead exposure in golden and bald eagles and turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) [26,43]. Because alternative ammunitions exist, such as copper bullets [25,52] or centerfire bullets designed to resist fragmentation [53], such policy decisions should not be too controversial [43,54]. Indeed, such alternative ammunition proved to be as efficient as lead ammunition, are generally affordable for hunters and more ethical than lead ones [55]. ...
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Top predators and scavengers are vulnerable to pollutants, particularly those accumulated along the food chain. Lead accumulation can induce severe disorders and alter survival both in mammals (including humans) and in birds. A potential source of lead poisoning in wild animals, and especially in scavengers, results from the consumption of ammunition residues in the tissues of big game killed by hunters. For two consecutive years we quantified the level lead exposure in individuals of a sentinel scavenger species, the common raven (Corvus corax), captured during the moose (Alces alces) hunting season in eastern Quebec, Canada. The source of the lead contamination was also determined using stable isotope analyses. Finally, we identified the different scavenger species that could potentially be exposed to lead by installing automatic cameras targeting moose gut piles. Blood lead concentration in ravens increased over time, indicating lead accumulation over the moose- hunting season. Using a contamination threshold of 100 mg. L 21, more than 50% of individuals were lead- contaminated during the moose hunting period. Lead concentration was twice as high in one year compared to the other, matching the number of rifle- shot moose in the area. Non-contaminated birds exhibited no ammunition isotope signatures. The isotope signature of the lead detected in contaminated ravens tended towards the signature from lead ammunition. We also found that black bears (Ursus americanus), golden eagles and bald eagles (Aquila chrysaetos and Haliaeetus leucocephalus, two species of conservation concern) scavenged heavily on moose viscera left by hunters. Our unequivocal results agree with other studies and further motivate the use of non-toxic ammunition for big game hunting.
... Many animals die naturally during the most susceptible stages of life: early when vulnerability reduces their survival, late because of senescence. Also, animals may die from casualties related to humans (see chapter "Human-Mediated Carrion: Effects on Ecological Processes"), which include intentional mortality sources such as game hunting, fisheries, deliberate poisoning and poaching, as well as unintentional mortality causes such as collisions with infrastructures, road kills, ship strikes, emerging infectious diseases and environmental toxins (Burkholder et al. 1992;Harvell et al. 1999;Laist et al. 2001;Fisher et al. 2006;Lambertucci et al. 2010;Collins and Kays 2011;Koch et al. 2013;Jepson et al. 2013;Wright et al. 2013;Kühn et al. 2015;Benbow et al. 2016). Further, these causes of death often work in concert (Newton 1998). ...
Article
Introduction Availability of carrion to scavengers is a central issue in carrion ecology and management, and is crucial for understanding the evolution of scavenging behaviour. Compared to live animals, their carcasses are relatively unpredictable in space and time in natural conditions, with a few exceptions (see below, especially Sect. “Carrion Exchange at the Terrestrial-Aquatic Interface”). Carrion is also an ephemeral food resource due to the action of a plethora of consumers, from microorganisms to large vertebrates, as well as to desiccation (i.e., loss of water content; DeVault et al. 2003; Beasley et al. 2012; Barton et al. 2013; Moleón et al. 2014). With a focus on vertebrate carcasses, here we give an overview of (a) the causes that produce carrion, (b) the rate of carrion production, (c) the factors affecting carrion quality, and (d) the distribution of carrion in space and time, both in terrestrial and aquatic environments (including their interface). In this chapter, we will focus on naturally produced carrion, whereas non-natural causes of animal mortality are described in chapter “Human-Mediated Carrion: Effects on Ecological Processes”. However, throughout this chapter we also refer to extensive livestock carrion, because in the absence of strong restrictions such as those imposed in the European Community after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis (Donázar et al. 2009; Margalida et al. 2010), the spatiotemporal availability of carrion of extensive livestock and wild ungulates is similar.
... In accordance with our results, feeding stations should be created, preferably in areas where there are low densities of wild ungulates. With regard to the animal biomass that wild ungulates can offer, taking into account the lead poisoning problem, priority actions should be the regulation of ammunition to avoid indirect poisoning of scavengers [41]. As a parallel management measure, it should by priority to eliminate the supply of carcasses of hunted animals to supplementary feeding sites. ...
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The reduction in the amount of food available for European avian scavengers as a consequence of restrictive public health policies is a concern for managers and conservationists. Since 2002, the application of several sanitary regulations has limited the availability of feeding resources provided by domestic carcasses, but theoretical studies assessing whether the availability of food resources provided by wild ungulates are enough to cover energetic requirements are lacking. We assessed food provided by a wild ungulate population in two areas of NE Spain inhabited by three vulture species and developed a P System computational model to assess the effects of the carrion resources provided on their population dynamics. We compared the real population trend with to a hypothetical scenario in which only food provided by wild ungulates was available. Simulation testing of the model suggests that wild ungulates constitute an important food resource in the Pyrenees and the vulture population inhabiting this area could grow if only the food provided by wild ungulates would be available. On the contrary, in the Pre-Pyrenees there is insufficient food to cover the energy requirements of avian scavenger guilds, declining sharply if biomass from domestic animals would not be available. Our results suggest that public health legislation can modify scavenger population trends if a large number of domestic ungulate carcasses disappear from the mountains. In this case, food provided by wild ungulates could be not enough and supplementary feeding could be necessary if other alternative food resources are not available (i.e. the reintroduction of wild ungulates), preferably in European Mediterranean scenarios sharing similar and socio-economic conditions where there are low densities of wild ungulates. Managers should anticipate the conservation actions required by assessing food availability and the possible scenarios in order to make the most suitable decisions.
... This problem is even more apparent considering the extent of the use of leadbased ammunition for big game hunting worldwide. 14,55 Eagles are known to be readily attracted to carcasses. 56 This can lead to temporal reductions in their flight activity. ...
Article
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Lead poisoning of animals due to ingestion of fragments from lead-based ammunition in carcasses and offal of shot wildlife is acknowledged globally and raises great concerns about potential behavioral effects leading to increased mortality risks. Based on analyses of tracking data, we found that even sub-lethal lead concentrations in blood (25 ppb, wet weight), can likely negatively affect movement behavior (flight height and movement rate) of free-ranging scavenging Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). Lead levels in liver of recovered post-mortem analyzed eagles suggested that sub-lethal exposure increases the risk of mortality in eagles. Such adverse effects on animals are probably common worldwide and across species, where game hunting with lead-based ammunition is widespread. Our study highlights lead exposure as a considerably more serious threat to wildlife conservation than previously realized and suggests implementation of bans of lead ammunition for hunting.
... Lead poisoning related to human activities has been recognized as a threat for both wildlife and human health worldwide (Watson et al., 2009;Lambertucci et al., 2010). It has been extensively documented as a conservation problem by studying selected species (Church et al., 2006;Pain et al., 2005Pain et al., , 2009Fisher et al., 2006), or potentially contaminated territories (Martínez-L opez et al., 2004;G omez-Ramírez et al., 2011;Madry et al., 2015). ...
... Indeed, only few studies have investigated the accuracy and killing performance of lead-free ammunition [35][36][37][38][39]. Concerns were raised by practitioners regarding lead-free bullet performance and selection [27,39,40] which can be attributed to the absence of thorough investigations of the terminal ballistic behavior [41]. However, given the ''overwhelming scientific evidence on the toxic effects of lead on human and wildlife health'' [42], several authors, including a consortium of 30 scientists, recommended to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of lead-containing hunting ammunition world-wide [34,[42][43][44]. ...
Article
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Background Lead-free hunting bullets are an alternative to lead-containing bullets which cause health risks for humans and endangered scavenging raptors through lead ingestion. However, doubts concerning the effectiveness of lead-free hunting bullets hinder the wide-spread acceptance in the hunting and wildlife management community. Methods We performed terminal ballistic experiments under standardized conditions with ballistic soap as surrogate for game animal tissue to characterize dimensionally stable, partially fragmenting, and deforming lead-free bullets and one commonly used lead-containing bullet. The permanent cavities created in soap blocks are used as a measure for the potential wound damage. The soap blocks were imaged using computed tomography to assess the volume and shape of the cavity and the number of fragments. Shots were performed at different impact speeds, covering a realistic shooting range. Using 3D image segmentation, cavity volume, metal fragment count, deflection angle, and depth of maximum damage were determined. Shots were repeated to investigate the reproducibility of ballistic soap experiments. Results All bullets showed an increasing cavity volume with increasing deposited energy. The dimensionally stable and fragmenting lead-free bullets achieved a constant conversion ratio while the deforming copper and lead-containing bullets showed a ratio, which increases linearly with the total deposited energy. The lead-containing bullet created hundreds of fragments and significantly more fragments than the lead-free bullets. The deflection angle was significantly higher for the dimensionally stable bullet due to its tumbling behavior and was similarly low for the other bullets. The deforming bullets achieved higher reproducibility than the fragmenting and dimensionally stable bullets. Conclusion The deforming lead-free bullet closely resembled the deforming lead-containing bullet in terms of energy conversion, deflection angle, cavity shape, and reproducibility, showing that similar terminal ballistic behavior can be achieved. Furthermore, the volumetric image processing allowed superior analysis compared to methods that involve cutting of the soap blocks.
... Lead poisoning in adult bald eagles has long been associated with their feeding on dead or crippled waterfowl contaminated with lead shot (Hennes 1985), however, retrospective and current studies suggest that many poisonings result from ingestion of hunter-crippled or killed terrestrial game (Kramer and Redig 1997, Martin et al. 2007, Pain et al. 2008, Redig et al. 2009, Lambertucci et al. 2010). Evidence from studies on common loons (Scheuhammer and Norris 1996) suggests that lead sinkers or fishing lures in fish eaten by eagles could also cause poisoning. ...
Article
Lead poisoning is not a new threat for wild birds, but it is now playing an important role in shaping raptor populations. Studies have been focused mainly on Europe, North-America, and Japan, but little is known about the situation in South-America. Lead is a serious threat for wildlife, especially for long-lived species. Nevertheless, no information is available for wild Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) populations. This species, which lives throughout the Andes Mountains, is endangered mainly in the north though it is having problems throughout its distribution. We evaluated lead exposure in the Andean condor by a nondestructive method using feathers. We determined lead concentration from 152 feathers, collected in 15 communal roosts distributed throughout almost all condor’s range in Patagonia (ca. 1500 km north–south). We also looked for the origin of this lead through the analysis of lead isotope composition of feathers and ammunition. We present here the first reference data on lead concentration for a raptor population from Argentina. Lead concentrations were generally low, however, some individuals had concentrations several times above the overall mean (up to 21 lg/g). Our results suggest that lead might come from a mix of two types of ammunition sources, one used for big game and another for hare hunting. Andean condors are at the top of the food chain, thus all the other medium-to-large sized scavengers and predators from this area can be also exposed to this threat. We highlight the need to change hunting policies in Argentina, and in other South-American countries, including the banning of lead ammunitions to protect carnivores consuming hunted animals.
Article
In recent years, bismuth has been promoted as a “green element” and is used as a substitute for the toxic lead in ammunition and other applications. However, the bioavailability and toxicity of bismuth is still not very well described. Following a hunting accident with bismuth-containing shots, a bioavailability study of bismuth from metal pellets inoculated into rat limb muscles was carried out. Bismuth could be found in urine and blood of the animals. Bio-imaging using laser ablation ICP-MS of thin sections of the tissue around the metal implant was carried out to find out more about the distribution of the metal diffusing into the tissue. Two laser ablation systems with different ablation cell designs were compared regarding their analytical performance. Low concentrations of bismuth showing a non-symmetrical pattern were detected in the tissue surrounding the metal implant. This was partly an artefact from cutting the thin sections but also bio-mobilisation of the metals of the implant could be seen. An accumulation of zinc around the implant was interpreted as a marker of inflammation. Challenges regarding sample preparation for laser ablation and bio-imaging of samples of diverse composition became apparent during the analysis. Figure
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Climate change can cause geographic displacement of the ecological niche of a species, so that similar species that previously did not coexist could begin to face new interactions. Such geographic displacement and increased competition can also be exacerbated by anthropic intervention. Until less than 100 years ago, Vultur gryphus and Coragyps atratus did not coexist. Nowadays, possibly as a result of climate change, changes in the distributions of both species created areas where they are now sympatric. Through ecological niche modeling, we evaluated the possible effects that future scenarios of climate change and human influence would have on the distribution and sympatry between the two species. Our models predict that the current distribution of V. gryphus will be reduced between 18% and 24% by 2050 and between 21% and 32% by 2070. Additionally, they predict that the distribution of C. atratus will be reduced by 31–52% by the year 2050 and 15–60% by 2070. The two algorithms predict a reduction in the areas of sympatry. However, for the northern Andes the overlap between the two species will increase, reaching up to 70% in the year 2070. The distribution of C. atratus will move towards higher areas in the altitudinal gradient, and this will generate an increase in the current sympatry between both species. No clear trend was observed on the effect of human influences on the areas of overlap between the scenarios evaluated. The possible effects of climate change and anthropic intervention in future scenarios found in this study highlight the need to include these effects in future analyses and conservation programs of V. gryphus and other threatened vultures.
Article
Lead contamination is a global problem affecting a large number of bird species around the world. Among the different avian guilds, vultures and facultative scavengers are particularly threatened by this toxic metal. However, little information is available about differences in exposure to this metal for sympatric vulture species that share food resources. We compared blood lead concentrations of two closely related sympatric obligate scavenger species, the abundant Black Vulture Coragyps astratus and the threatened Andean Condor Vultur gryphus in north‐western Patagonia, Argentina. We sampled 28 Andean Condors and 29 Black Vultures trapped foraging in the same area in the steppe. We also sampled 16 Black Vultures foraging in a rubbish dump to determine if there were differences in lead contamination among foraging sites. Andean Condors had significantly higher mean blood lead concentrations than Black Vultures. There was no difference in lead concentrations between Black Vultures trapped in the steppe and in the rubbish dump. The prevalence and probability of lead concentrations above the threshold level (20 µg/dL) was higher for Andean Condors than for Black Vultures, potentially producing different effects on their health. This disparity in lead contamination may be due to differences in their foraging habits or in their susceptibility to this toxic metal. Overall, our results suggest caution in using an abundant surrogate species to infer lead contamination in a closely related but harder to sample species.
Article
Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus), by virtue of their position at the top of the food chain and as obligate scavengers, are at risk of accumulating and concentrating heavy metals in their tissues and may be more predisposed to their toxic effects. The aim of this study is to investigate heavy metal concentrations in Griffon vultures in Portugal and Catalonia, Spain and to determine if heavy metal concentrations in the blood of weak and/or injured Griffon vultures admitted to wildlife rehabilitation centres (WRC) reflect contamination profiles in the local, free-living and outwardly healthy population. Whole-blood samples taken from 121 Griffon vultures caught in the wild or admitted to WRC in Portugal and Catalonia, Spain were examined for cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Cd and Hg were not detected in most samples (98.3% and 95%, respectively), while Pb was detected in all birds in concentrations ranging between 4.97 and 300.23 µg/dl. Birds admitted to WRC had significantly lower Pb concentrations (24.15±15.07 and 25.98±18.04 µg/dl in Portugal and Catalonia, Spain, respectively) than animals caught in the wild (29.67±13.19 and 42.22±50.08 µg/dl in Portugal and Catalonia, Spain, respectively) (p
Chapter
Although carrion ecology has received a great deal of scientific attention in recent years, carrion supply is still poorly described in most ecosystems. Animals die from many causes and their carcasses are exploited by a wide array of scavengers and decomposers. In terrestrial ecosystems, carrion is produced naturally at an annual rate of tens to hundreds of kg/km², although this figure may increase by several orders of magnitude in areas where living animals are concentrated, such as coastal ecosystems with important marine mammal colonies and the breeding grounds of semelparous fish. Mortality rates, cause of death, and species and individual identity of carcasses greatly influence how much carrion is available to scavengers. For instance, in populations characterized by a stationary age distribution, terrestrial megaherbivores, marine mammals, and other large animals contribute substantially to the total carrion biomass production in their ecosystems. After carcasses are produced, other factors such as carcass location, weather conditions, and biotic interactions may influence their availability to scavengers. Overall, the spatiotemporal variation in carrion availability is inevitably linked to the distribution of animals and the places and periods where they are more vulnerable to mortality. Also, although carcasses in terrestrial ecosystems are rarely moved during their consumption, carcasses in aquatic ecosystems frequently sink, float, or follow the currents. In relation to time, carrion production may experience strong fluctuations both within and between years. The growing field of carrion ecology, including the evolution of scavenging behaviour and carrion management, would benefit greatly from a better understanding of how much, where, and when carrion is produced and becomes available to scavengers.
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Humans have spread species to nonnative environments for generations. In turn, these species can become invasive, threatening native species. There has been much discussion about the best way to control invasive species and protect native species ([ 1 ][1]). However, one point has been overlooked:
Conference Paper
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http://www.peregrinefund.org/subsites/conference-lead/2008PbConf_Proceedings.htm
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Lead poisoning is a primary factor impeding the survival and recovery of the critically endangered California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus). However, the frequency and magnitude of lead exposure in condors is not well-known in part because most blood lead monitoring occurs biannually, and biannual blood samples capture only 10% of a bird’s annual exposure history. We investigated the use of growing feathers from free-flying condors in California to establish a bird’s lead exposure history. We show that lead concentration and stable lead isotopic composition analyses of sequential feather sections and concurrently collected blood samples provided a comprehensive history of lead exposure over the 2−4 month period of feather growth. Feather analyses identified exposure events not evident from blood monitoring efforts, and by fitting an empirically derived timeline to actively growing feathers, we were able to estimate the time frame for specific lead exposure events. Our results demonstrate the utility of using sequentially sampled feathers to reconstruct lead exposure history. Since exposure risk in individuals is one determinant of population health, our findings should increase the understanding of population-level effects from lead poisoning in condors; this information may also be helpful for other avian species potentially impacted by lead poisoning.
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Extensive shooting and angling causes, indirectly, fatal lead poisoning of birds. European Union policy on this major source of pollution is inconsistent with its laws regulating other forms of lead in the environment. Only three countries have banned the use of lead shot completely in the European Union, despite availability of substitutes and evidence that their use is a major contributor to bird conservation. The European Commission uses the criterion of amount of lead deposited and corroded, and the concentration of lead in water and soil, as the basis of their decisions. The USA and Canada used the prevalence of lead poisoning among birds as the basis of policy and law allowing them to reduce lead use at the continental level. The EU and North American policies and law on lead reduction are compared in this study, on the basis of which recommendations are developed indicating how the EU could revise its approach and resolve this environmental problem. Reluctance to act on lead reduction by the European Parliament and its member states reflects the current vested interests of the sporting communities. Companies in eight European countries already produce non-toxic materials for hunting and shooting, and are not the limiting factor in this issue. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
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Lead is highly toxic to animals. Humans eating game killed using lead ammunition generally avoid swallowing shot or bullets and dietary lead exposure from this source has been considered low. Recent evidence illustrates that lead bullets fragment on impact, leaving small lead particles widely distributed in game tissues. Our paper asks whether lead gunshot pellets also fragment upon impact, and whether lead derived from spent gunshot and bullets in the tissues of game animals could pose a threat to human health. Wild-shot gamebirds (6 species) obtained in the UK were X-rayed to determine the number of shot and shot fragments present, and cooked using typical methods. Shot were then removed to simulate realistic practice before consumption, and lead concentrations determined. Data from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate Statutory Surveillance Programme documenting lead levels in raw tissues of wild gamebirds and deer, without shot being removed, are also presented. Gamebirds containing > or =5 shot had high tissue lead concentrations, but some with fewer or no shot also had high lead concentrations, confirming X-ray results indicating that small lead fragments remain in the flesh of birds even when the shot exits the body. A high proportion of samples from both surveys had lead concentrations exceeding the European Union Maximum Level of 100 ppb w.w. (0.1 mg kg(-1) w.w.) for meat from bovine animals, sheep, pigs and poultry (no level is set for game meat), some by several orders of magnitude. High, but feasible, levels of consumption of some species could result in the current FAO/WHO Provisional Weekly Tolerable Intake of lead being exceeded. The potential health hazard from lead ingested in the meat of game animals may be larger than previous risk assessments indicated, especially for vulnerable groups, such as children, and those consuming large amounts of game.
Review of Evidence Concerning the Contamination of Wildlife and the Environment Arising from the Use of Lead Ammunition; The Food and Environment Research Agency-DEFRA: London
  • R Quy
Quy, R. Review of Evidence Concerning the Contamination of Wildlife and the Environment Arising from the Use of Lead Ammunition; The Food and Environment Research Agency-DEFRA: London, 2010.