- WILDLIFE AND
The crux of anti-lead ammunition and anti-hunting activists’ arguments against traditional lead ammunition rests on the misplaced assertion that the use of lead ammunition in hunting causes lead poisoning in wildlife. From upland game to scavenging animals, environmental activists claim that wildlife exposure to lead ammunition results in lead poisoning.
However, the science they present to support their allegations is riddled with false assumptions, bad methodology, selective presentation of data and outright ignoring of plausible alternative explanations. Researchers have routinely used questionable sample sizes, cherry picked data to incriminate lead ammunition, and disregarded, and even deleted, unfavorable data that contradicts their hypothesis, in order to publish their conclusions that lead ammunition is poisoning wildlife.
While anti-lead ammunition activists have experienced some success in selling their argument to the public and to elected representatives, key studies professing to link lead ammunition to lead poisoning have been criticized severely by other scientists, and some researchers have even been embroiled in lawsuits for withholding “original” data suggesting results contrary to their published conclusions.
As activist scientists twist and manipulate the scientific process to incriminate lead ammunition as the sole source of lead poisoning in hunting areas, they unconscionably and inexplicably ignore the presence of numerous non-ammunition lead sources that are common in the environment.
For example, lead-based paint, microtrash, hardware such as galvanized screws, nuts, bolts washers and the like have all been shown to be available and attractive to condors. These items have appeared not only in their nests, but also in their digestive tract and the digestive tracts of their fledglings. However, activists and scientists advocating for lead bans consistently overlook such alternative sources. (Learn more about how activists have ignored the threat lead-based paint poses to California condors).
The failure of California’s lead ammunition ban, Assembly Bill (AB) 821, to decrease lead poisoning of condors in the “Condor Zone,” conclusively proves that alternative sources of lead poisoning cannot be ignored.
In 2007, proponents of AB 821 claimed that condors were being poisoned by lead ammunition. They promised that if hunters stopped using lead ammunition, the poisoning would stop. Since the passage of AB 821, however, a comparison of pre-ban and post-ban blood-lead data indicates that, contrary to activists’ claims, the incidence of lead exposure and toxicity in condors remains static and actually has increased slightly, compounding the problem and leaving multiple condors dead.
The failure of California’s lead ban to successfully combat lead poisoning strongly indicates that alternative sources of lead, other than hunters’ ammunition, is a primary cause of lead exposure and toxicity in condors and other affected species.