- WILDLIFE AND
Greater Yellowstone Area - In a recent study published by The Wildlife Society, researchers from the University of Montana and the Avian Program of Craighead Beringia South found that lead ammunition fragments in game carcasses were not a source of lead exposure or lead poisoning in large carnivores.
From 2007-2009, researchers captured and sampled blood from 82 grizzly bears, 35 black bears, 12 wolves and 6 cougars within the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The researchers also collected over 400 scat samples from these same animals to test for lead projectile fragments. No statistical difference in blood-lead levels was noted between samples collected before hunting season and samples collected during hunting season. Further, no lead fragments were found in any of the over 400 scat samples taken by the researchers.
The grizzly bears had the highest blood-lead levels of all the animals sampled. On average, their blood-lead level was 5.5 micrograms/deciliter, well below the 45 microgram/deciliter threshold toxicity level typically used by wildlife organizations, such as the Condor Recovery Program. The other animals studied did not show lead exposure in any significant blood-lead levels.
The study concluded that the hunting season has no effect on the blood-lead levels in large carnivores.
The results surprised the researchers, who pre-conditionally expected scavenging carnivores, such as the grizzly and black bear, to exhibit high blood-lead levels during the hunting season due to hunters’ gut-piles and carrion left in the field within the Greater Yellowstone area. Indeed, the bears in the study rely heavily on carrion as a food source in order to gain over 100 pounds before hibernating during the winter.
The study results cast serious doubt on the anti-lead ammunition campaign’s claims that lead ammunition is the primary source of lead poisoning in wildlife. The data clearly indicates a more continuous, year round alternative source of lead exposure within the Greater Yellowstone range of these large carnivores.
To combat the misguided efforts by environmental activists and researchers seeking to infringe on hunting regulations, the NRA and California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation (CRPAF) have collected thousands of documents via public records act requests over the last several years on the use of lead ammunition. Many of these documents raise serious doubts about the veracity of claims that lead ammunition is poisoning California condors, wildlife or humans. In fact, many documents obtained indicate these claims are based on “faulty science,” and the NRA and CRPAF have used these documents to debunk the “faulty science” being proffered to implement various lead ammunition bans across the U.S. The NRA’s and CRPAF’s efforts are critical in defending the status quo for hunters and recreational shooters nationwide. For more information regarding lead ammunition, join the Hunt for Truth.
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