Groups Ask EPA to Get the Lead Out of Ammo

Bald eagles and other birds who scavenge the remains of animals left by hunters may be poisoned by lead ammo - Photo by Robert BundayThe Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and 99 other groups in 35 states formally petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March to regulate toxic lead in hunting ammunition to protect public health and prevent the widespread poisoning of eagles, California condors, and other wildlife.

Birds inadvertently consume lead via spent ammo or bullet fragments that have settled in soils or water sediments. According to the CBD, up to 20 million birds die each year as a result, including bald and golden eagles, trumpeter swans, endangered California condors, and more than 75 other species. Lead from other human sources has also been implicated in mass bird deaths (see “Lead Poisoning: The Lessons of the Birds of Esperance,” Fall 2010 AWI Quarterly), and hundreds of scientific papers have documented the dangers to wildlife from lead exposure. As with human young, lead poisoning is especially damaging to young birds, impairing brain development, causing anemia, decreasing growth rates, and increasing hatchling mortality.

“The unnecessary poisoning of eagles, condors and other wildlife is a national tragedy that the EPA can easily put an end to,” said the CBD’s Jeff Miller. “There are safe, available alternatives to lead ammo for all hunting and shooting sports, so there’s no reason for this poisoning
to go on.”