myths

Claims and Truths

Proponents of California bill AB 711 convinced the California legislature to ban the use of lead ammunition throughout the state, despite the fact that the previous 5 year lead ban within the Condor Corridor failed to reduce the levels of lead in condors. This lead ban will be effective July 1, 2019. 

There have been concerns raised by a diverse array of opposition that proponents of the bill have based their claims on unauthenticated scientific methodologies and have failed to release the details of their studies to the public. Since 2007, HuntForTruth.org has sought to uncover the truth regarding the use of traditional ammunition and has raised serious questions about the purported nexus between lead ammunition and lead poisoning or mortality in California condors and other wildlife as we combat the assault on traditional ammunition in all 50 states.

Claims
Truths
Scientific Claims Asserted by Lead Ammunition Ban Proponents
Truths
Scientific studies claim a causal link between the use lead ammunition in hunting and lead poisoning or mortality in wildlife.

The crux of anti-hunting activists’ argument against traditional ammunition rests on the misplaced assertion that the use of lead ammunition for hunting leads to elevated lead exposure and poisoning in scavenging animals, such as the California condor, that allegedly ingest fragments of spent ammunition in gut-piles or carcasses left in the field by hunters. The scientific studies relied on by the anti-lead proponents are in fact not scientifically sound. In other words, the proponents use “faulty science” to support their anti-lead ammunition agenda. HuntForTruth.org has procured and analyzed over one hundred thousand documents from governmental agencies, universities and researchers and have found systemic flaws, which include faulty methodology and sampling protocols and the selective use of data (i.e. "cherry picking" data for publication).

For a scientific evaluation of several of these studies, click here.

Lead ammunition ban proponents claim that the science behind lead ban proposals is sound.

The anti-lead ammunition proponents have employed faulty science as a tool to support their distorted agenda. Indeed, the scientific studies used to impose lead ammunition bans are flawed. Researchers that have published these papers have used questionable sampling sizes and have ignored data believed to be contrary to their pre-conceived conclusions regarding lead ammunition. They have also routinely ignored evidence of alternative sources of lead in the environment as a potential cause of lead poisoning or mortality in wildlife. Key studies that profess to link lead ammunition to lead poisoning or mortality in wildlife have been criticized by scientists, and have even been embroiled in lawsuits for withholding original data that show results contrary to their published conclusions.

To learn more about the faulty science behind the campaign to ban lead ammunition, click here.

Lead ammunition ban proponents claim that voluminous scientific studies referenced in their Master Bibliographies support their claim that lead ammunition causes lead poisoning in wildlife. The so-called Master Bibliographies are a compilation of numerous scientific publications which express at best a very tenuous nexus between lead ammunition and lead poisoning or mortality in wildlife. While a majority of the publications discuss lead generally, the very few papers that actually purport to evaluate lead ammunition are easily debunked.
Lead ammunition ban proponents claim that the science used to support lead ammunition bans is transparent and readily available for public review. HuntForTruth.org continues its aggressive effort to gather information and science to expose the truth behind the campaign to ban traditional ammunition. We have encountered less than forthcoming responses from certain agencies and universities regarding the information and data used in studies purported to support lead ammunition bans. Nevertheless, HuntForTruth.org has obtained over one hundred thousand documents from public records requests concerning the lead ammunition issue. Our organization exists in order to share this information with policymakers and the general public to facilitate a fully informed debate regarding the use of lead ammunition. To stay informed, please  sign up to our e-mail alerts so that we can keep you updated on developments in this important policy debate.
Lead Ammunition Ban Proponents' Claims about Lead Poisoning
Truths
It is claimed that scientific studies suggest hunters' lead ammunition causes lead poisoning and mortality in wildlife. It is claimed that lead fragments from hunters’ ammunition in gut piles and carcasses left in the field by hunters are poisoning scavenging animals. However, such lead fragments are an unlikely source of lead poisoning in wildlife because the lead used in ammunition is metallic lead, which is not sufficiently soluble in the digestive tract of scavengers to result in poisoning under natural feeding conditions in the wild. For example, several scientific studies have shown that it is extremely difficult to poison raptors with lead even with constant feeding of large amounts of lead shot with food over extended periods of time.

The moderate acid levels in the digestive tract of wildlife, the buffering of the acid due to the presence of food and the limited time present in the digestive tract, typically do not produce the conditions required to cause significant dissolution of the lead in ammunition to cause lead poisoning.

Typically, lead fragments in the digestive tract of scavengers pass through the animal very rapidly with the processing of the food consumed with the lead ammunition.

In contrast, unlike metallic lead, soluble forms of industrial lead compounds, such as in old leaded paint chips, legacy leaded gasoline and pesticides are very soluble in the digestive tracts of wildlife and are far more likely to cause rapid lead poisoning.

Scientific studies claim that lead ammunition used by hunters significantly fragments upon striking game, causing widespread contamination of the meat, which in turn may be consumed by both humans and wildlife. Lead ammunition does not fragment upon impact with game nearly as much as certain scientific studies suggest. One of the often cited studies that alleges that lead ammunition significantly fragments is fatally flawed. In the Hunt, et al. study, researchers selectively chose a highly fragmenting ammunition type, which they then over-sampled in their research, to the exclusion of the most often used types of lead ammunition. Additionally, many of the radiographs used to "prove" projectile fragments in game cannot differentiate between lead and copper jacket projectiles, gravel, or bone fragments. This flawed methodology produced an unreliable result that significantly overstated the number of lead fragments in the meat of game taken with lead ammunition.

For more information on ammunition, click here.

Claims Regarding Alternative Sources of Lead Contamination
Truths
It is claimed that lead ammunition is the primary source of lead in the environment that poisons wildlife, and there are no other significant sources. There are many alternative sources of lead in the environment that are far more likely sources of lead poisoning or mortality in wildlife. Residual lead from legacy leaded gasoline, paint, pesticides, landfills and mining tailings, as well as microtrash and lead acid batteries from illegal dumping are only a few alternative sources of lead in the environment, which are known to poison wildlife.

These alternative sources are far more likely to poison and even kill wildlife as these sources of lead are in the form of highly soluble industrial lead compounds, unlike lead in ammunition that is a highly insoluble metallic form.

Activists and scientists advocating lead ammunition bans routinely overlook such alternative sources of lead poisoning, as it clearly does not support their anti-lead ammunition campaign.

To learn more about how activists have ignored the threat that lead-based paint poses to California condors, click here.

Lead Ammunition Ban Proponents' Claims about Lead Ammunition Bans
Truths
It is claimed that the lead ammunition bans currently in effect have been successful.

Lead ammunition bans have not proven to be effective in reducing lead exposure in wildlife. In 2008, the California Legislature implemented legislation (AB 821) that banned lead ammunition in the "California Condor Zone". The bill was predicated and passed on its proponents’ assurances that hunters’ lead ammunition was the cause of lead poisoning and mortality in California condors.

However, California condor blood-lead sampling results from 2007-2011 show that the blood-lead levels and lead related deaths have actually remained static, if not slightly increased, after the implementation of the AB 821 lead ammunition ban. Though the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that they have experienced approximately 99% hunter compliance with the lead ammunition ban, poisoning of California condors continues unabated. Despite the promises and assertions made by the AB 821 lead ammunition ban proponents, the data clearly shows that hunters’ ammunition is not the cause of lead poisoning or mortality in California condors, and that alternative sources of lead in the environment are the real concern.

To learn how California’s lead ammunition ban has failed to decrease lead poisoning and mortality in California condors, click here.

It is claimed that the fact that some regulatory agencies have adopted lead ammunition restrictions shows that lead bans are justified. While anti-lead ammunition proponents have had some success in selling their argument to the public and to elected representatives, there is substantial evidence that the assault on lead ammunition is based on faulty science using questionable scientific methodology, sampling protocols and data.To learn more about faulty science behind the lead ammunition issue, click here.
It is claimed that the 1991 federal lead ammunition ban for hunting waterfowl justifies the banning of lead ammunition used for hunting upland game.

The 1991 federal lead ammunition ban for waterfowl hunting has little relevance to the proposed expansion of lead ammunition bans for hunting upland game. Waterfowl hunting in an aquatic environment is far different from hunting upland game in dry terrain fields. What is unique about waterfowl hunting is the accumulation of shot (density) in shallow sediments that allegedly are ingested by certain waterfowl species. Consequently, the nature of the waterfowls’ habitat, eating habits, and digestion make for a very unique situation not present in upland game.

Upland game does not feed in the field like waterfowl does in the water.
Additionally, studies have found that upland game does not naturally ingest shot in the field to any significant extent.

For more information regarding upland game studies, click here.

Lead Ammunition Ban Proponents' Claims Regarding Lead and Alternative Metals
Truths
It is claimed that there is no reason to prefer lead ammunition for hunting. For hundreds of years, lead has been an integral component of traditional ammunition. Lead has historically been, and continues to be, the most popular ammunition choice among hunters because it is relatively inexpensive, offers superior ballistic and terminal performance, and actually poses fewer safety and environmental concerns than alternative metals ammunition.
It is claimed that alternative metals ammunition (“non-toxic”) is preferable to lead ammunition because it is environmentally friendly and safe.

Hunters and recreational shooters should not be misled into giving up lead ammunition for alternative metals ammunition. There are significant consequences that arise from the use of alternative metals ammunition. Alternative ammunition containing bismuth, tungsten or copper coated steel have all raised various concerns among environmentalists. For example, some recent studies now claim that bismuth has been found to leach into the soil and groundwater and interfere with soil bacteria. Other studies claim that tungsten, which is transformed to a soluble form by oxidation, can accumulate in the spleen of wildlife and possibly cause immune system disorders. Even copper has been claimed to be toxic under certain circumstances.

Steel shot does not perform as well as lead for hunting, leading to higher numbers of crippled game. Additionally, steel shot used for hunting upland game may ricochet off hard surfaces, such as trees and rocks, possibly endangering nearby hunters.

For more information regarding alternative ammunition, click here.

It is claimed that alternative metals ammunition performs as well as lead ammunition.

Most non-lead alternatives offer inferior ballistic performance compared to lead. Because most alternative metals are less dense than lead, they lose energy and velocity in flight faster than lead and retain less down-range energy. For rifle ammunition, alternative metals are able to offer similar performance to lead at close range, but the generally lighter density of non-lead alternatives undermines their ballistic performance above 100-150 yards and makes lead a far superior ammunition for long range targets. Furthermore, the additional length of the projectile required to achieve similar sectional density to lead ammunition causes problems with gyroscopic stability at longer ranges. Unfortunately, rifles and pistols have rifling that is designed to gyroscopically stabilize lead projectiles and not alternative metal ammunition. For shot, steel and other harder metals offer inferior terminal performance because the projectile passes straight through the game without deformation, thus wounding and crippling the game instead of killing it on impact.

To learn more about the ballistic performance of lead and alternative metals, click here.

It is claimed that alternative metals ammunition is as safe as lead ammunition to both shooters and firearms. Using non-lead alternative metals ammunition creates a number of user and safety concerns. While lead is relatively malleable and will deform and flatten if it strikes something hard, many non-lead alternatives are composed of harder elements which are more likely to ricochet when they strike a hard surface, possibly endangering nearby hunters. These harder elements present further safety concerns because they can become embedded in trees and cause damage to sawmill equipment, threatening the safety of loggers and mill workers. Finally, harder metals like tungsten and steel are less attractive than lead ammunition to many hunters because steel shot may cause ring bulge (a slight expansion of the choke) in older tightly choked shotguns.
It is claimed that alternative metals ammunition are as accessible as lead ammunition to hunters. Alternative metals ammunition, other than steel shotgun ammunition, is far more expensive than lead ammunition and prices less affluent hunters and recreational shooters out of the sport. For more information regarding lead ammunition vs. alternative metals ammunition, click here.
It is claimed that alternative metals ammunition prices will decrease as the usage increases. The cost of non-lead alternative ammunition is prohibitive for many hunters. While it is anticipated that the cost of alternative ammunition will decrease as demands increase, in its Summary of Lead Shot Alternatives, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that non-lead alternatives cost approximately two to twenty times more than lead ammunition. As of 2007, lead-free ammunition was generally about twice the cost of lead ammunition. Unfortunately, the least expensive alternative, steel, is perceived to be the least effective alternative due to its poor ballistic and terminal performance.
Lead Ban Proponents' Claims Regarding Conservationist Efforts
Truths
It is claimed that hunters and recreational shooters that use lead ammunition are anti-environment and are not conservationists.

Hunters, recreational shooters and affiliated organizations contribute billions of dollars annually throughout the country to conservation programs that enhance and preserve our environment. Sportsman contribute nearly eight million dollars a day and approximately three billion dollars a year for conservation. This funding represents, on average, nearly half of state fish and wildlife agencies' funding. The licensing fees and other charges to hunters support wildlife management and restoration, habitat improvement and general conservation efforts.

Collectively, hunters and anglers provide more than 75% of the annual funds for all fifty state conservation agencies. The real truth is that hunters, recreational shooters, and affiliated organizations are the true “conservationists.” Without their contributions, wildlife management and conservation efforts would not be possible.

It is claimed that the NRA and its affiliated groups neither protect the environment nor represent hunters. Hunters and recreational shooters and their affiliated organizations, like the NRA, are the nation’s most dedicated conservationists. Recognizing that groups attempting to ban the use of lead ammunition base their claims on faulty science, the NRA and affiliated groups remain vigilant in their desire to maintain the use of lead ammunition while continuing to preserve America's “traditional hunting heritage.” To learn more about the NRA's viewpoint on the use of traditional ammunition and the campaign to ban lead ammunition visit http://www.nrahuntersrights.org/LeadIssues.aspx.
Environmental organizations claim that they help endangered species. Environmental organizations consume vast amounts of federal and state agencies' funding required for maintaining conservation efforts necessary to preserve both species and habitat by filing frivolous lawsuits with the sole intent to further their singular agenda. Additionally, well-meaning but misguided environmental organizations present a significant threat to the California condor population. Overeager field biologists have endangered the fragile California condor population by practicing veterinary medicine without a license and misapplying in-field treatments. To learn more, click here.