Bullet changes could benefit wildlife

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Gun control’s a sticky matter, but environmentalists are hoping bullet control can speed through the legislative system.

Little Blue Heron

A Little Blue Heron (Photo: GreenRightNow)

A poll of Americans shows that 57 percent  support nontoxic, lead-free bullets for hunting, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which commissioned the survey 657 registered voters.

That’s good news for the California legislature, which is poised to take up a bill that would ban lead ammunition for hunting.

A move toward nontoxic bullets would be life-saving for wildlife, such as endangered condors, that are poisoned by consuming spent lead bullets.

“Lead poisoning from ammunition exacts a deadly toll on wildlife, killing bald eagles, endangered California condors, swans, loons and millions of other birds each year. It’s heartening to see that most Americans agree there’s no reason to continue putting toxic lead into the food chain or risking human health when there are nontoxic bullets already on the market and in use by hunters,” said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate at the Center.

The Center backs the California bill (711), proposed by Assembly Member Anthony Rendon, that would mandate non-lead ammunition. The bill would bring the whole state under non-lead bullet requirements; California already forbids lead ammunition in the condor’s range in central and southern parts of the state.

The Center for Biological Diversity sees the law as a good potential template for Congress, which could ban lead ammunition in all states, stopping the contamination of wild spaces, game and waterways.

The poll of American voters found that:

  •  57 percent support mandating a switch from lead bullets to nontoxic alternatives for hunting
  •  27 percent oppose such a switch
  • 48 percent think lead should be banned from hunting ammunition, while 33 percent oppose a ban
  • 51 percent say Republicans in Congress should work with Democrats to ban lead in ammunition, whereas only 33 percent want Republicans to oppose these efforts
Great White Egret, Louisiana Swamp

Great White Egret, Louisiana (Photo: GreenRightNow)

Lead is a well-known threat to wildlife, the environment and humans. Children can suffer neurological or cognitive impairments from exposure

Wildlife birds and mammals are affected when they scavenge on carcasses left by hunters. Millions of nontarget birds and other wildlife are poisoned in this manner every year in the US, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which reports that nearly 500 scientific papers have documented the dangers to wildlife from lead exposure.

“We’ve reduced toxic lead in our air, water and food by banning lead from gasoline, plumbing, paint, ceramic eating utensils, toys, jewelry and imported candy,” said Miller. “It’s way past time to do the same for our wildlife and people who eat wild game.”

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