Earth Science News  





. Lead Shot And Sinkers: Weighty Implications For Fish And Wildlife Health

Lead shot in the fall zone at the Broadkiln Sportsman's Club (quarter-coin for scale). (courtesy of Daniel J. Soeder, USGS)
by Staff Writers
Reston VA (SPX) Jul 17, 2008
Millions of pounds of lead used in hunting, fishing and shooting sports wind up in the environment each year and can threaten or kill wildlife, according to a new scientific report.

Lead is a metal with no known beneficial role in biological systems, and its use in gasoline, paint, pesticides, and solder in food cans has nearly been eliminated.

Although lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting in 1991, its use in ammunition for upland hunting, shooting sports, and in fishing tackle remains common.

While noting that more information is needed on some aspects of the impact of lead on wildlife, the authors said that numerous studies already documented adverse effects to wildlife, especially waterbirds and scavenging species, like hawks and eagles.

Lead exposure from ingested lead shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers also has been reported in reptiles, and studies near shooting ranges have shown evidence of lead poisoning in small mammals.

Frequently used upland hunting fields may have as much as 400,000 shot per acre. Individual shooting ranges may receive as much as 1.5 to 23 tons of lead shot and bullets annually, and outdoor shooting ranges overall may use more than 80,000 tons of lead shot and bullets each year.

Although precise estimates are not available for lead fishing tackle in the environment, about 4,382 tons of lead fishing sinkers are sold each year in the United States.

The most significant hazard to wildlife is through direct ingestion of spent lead shot and bullets, lost fishing sinkers and tackle, and related fragments, or through consumption of wounded or dead prey containing lead shot, bullets or fragments, emphasized USGS contaminants experts Drs. Barnett Rattner and Chris Franson.

The two scientists are lead authors of The Wildlife Society (TWS) technical report and co-authors with five other experts of a recent Fisheries article on the same subject.

"Science is replete with evidence that ingestion of spent ammunition and fishing tackle can kill birds," Rattner said.

"The magnitude of poisoning in some species such as waterfowl, eagles, California condors, swans and loons, is daunting. For this reason, on July 1, 2008, the state of California put restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in parts of the range of the endangered California condor because the element poses such a threat to this endangered species."

Lead poisoning causes behavioral, physiological, and biochemical effects, and often death. The rate of mortality is high enough to affect the populations of some wildlife species. Although fish ingest sinkers, jigs, and hooks, mortality in fish seems to be related to injury, blood loss, exposure to air and exhaustion rather than the lead toxicity that affects warm-blooded species.

Although lead from spent ammunition and lost fishing tackle is not readily released into aquatic and terrestrial systems, under some environmental conditions it can slowly dissolve and enter groundwater, making it potentially hazardous for plants, animals, and perhaps even people if it enters water bodies or is taken up in plant roots.

For example, said Rattner, dissolved lead can result in lead contamination in groundwater near some shooting ranges and at heavily hunted sites, particularly those hunted year after year.

Research on lead poisoning related to spent ammunition and lost fishing tackle has been focused on bird species, with at least two studies indicating that the ban on the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl in North America has been successful in reducing lead exposure in waterfowl, the report said.

The authors found that upland game - such as doves and quail - and scavenging birds - such as vultures and eagles - continue to be exposed to lead shot, putting some populations (condors in particular) at risk of lead poisoning.

Some states have limited the use of lead shot in upland areas to minimize such effects, and others are considering such restrictions. Environmentally safe alternatives to lead shot and sinkers exist and are available in North America and elsewhere, but use of these alternatives is not widespread, according to the report.

The authors of the report concluded that a better understanding of the toxicity and amount of lead poisoning in reptiles and aquatic birds related to fishing tackle is needed, as well as more information on the hazards of spent ammunition and mobilized lead at or near shooting ranges.

In addition, the authors suggested that a more detailed knowledge of how lead shot and fishing tackle specifically affect wildlife here and in other countries is essential, as well as studies that evaluate the effects on wildlife health and ecosystems of regulations restricting the amount of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle.

This technical review was authored by contaminant experts at the request of TWS and the American Fisheries Society (AFS). Such reviews synthesize available information and research on a particular topic. In this case, TWS and AFS sought to address the scientific data on the hazard and risk of lead in hunting, shooting sports, and fishing activities to fulfill their conservation missions.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Podcast interview with Dr. Barnett Rattner
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Recycling Contract Turns Trash Into Treasure
Joint Base Balad, Iraq (AFNS) Jul 16, 2008
War is messy -- literally -- but U.S. forces, contractors and Iraqis found a way to turn the military's trash into Iraq's economic treasure.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • China quake sends 1.4 million back into poverty: report
  • Asia sets stage for disaster relief exercise with key powers
  • Exercise For Rapid Disaster Relief Using Space-Based Technologies
  • Disaster deaths worse so far in 2008 than tsunami year: Munich Re

  • Australia to set up carbon trading scheme by 2010
  • CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship Launched
  • In Namibian desert, the heat is on to address climate change
  • Greenland Ice Cores Shows Drastic Climate Change Near End Of Ice Age

  • ESA Launches Program In Support Of Earth Observation Science
  • Astrium Purchases Majority Share In Spot Image
  • GeoEarthScope NorCal LiDAR Topography Data Available
  • Wilkins Ice Shelf Hanging By Its Last Thread

  • Analysis: Venezuela-Exxon row is rekindled
  • OECD issues report critical of biofuels, favours moratorium
  • Analysis: Uzbek explosion spares refinery
  • Technological Innovations Fuel Production Of Advanced Biofuels In Latin America

  • The Way To A Virus' Heart Is Through Its Enzymes
  • Discovery Of Key Malaria Proteins Could Mean Sticky End For Parasite
  • Pandemic Mutations In Bird Flu Revealed
  • Researchers Identify Potential Drug Candidates To Combat Bird Flu

  • The Exotic Side Of Veterinary Science
  • Incentives For Carbon Sequestration May Not Protect Species
  • Flatfish Fossils Fill In Evolutionary Missing Link
  • Big Brains Arose Twice In Higher Primates

  • Lead Shot And Sinkers: Weighty Implications For Fish And Wildlife Health
  • China Can't Fully Fix Air Quality Problem For Olympics
  • Recycling Contract Turns Trash Into Treasure
  • Waste Management Offers To Buy Republic For Six Billion Dollars

  • Will Our Future Brains Be Smaller
  • Do We Think That Machines Can Think
  • A Microsatellite-Guided Insight Into The Genetic Status Of The Adi Tribe
  • New Map IDs The Core Of The Human Brain

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement