SPEA powers new push for ban on hunters’ lead shot

Birding protection society SPEA is highlighting a European report this week that stresses lead shot used by hunters poses “just as much risk to public health as it does to the environment”.

The issue is with the lead, a “dangerous metal” with devastating consequences if inadvertently ingested.

ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, estimates that every year up to 2 million birds die from the results lead poisoning.

The agency has already recommended the prohibition of lead shot in wetlands, but, now, it believes this is not enough.

“The ECHA estimates that every year around 14000 tons of lead-shot are dispersed beyond the EU wetland areas. Just in Spain, where 86% of the territory is given over to hunting, lead used originates in around 6,000 tons of emissions”.

And it’s not just wildlife that can suffer. The lead “can penetrate the soil and contaminate underground lines of water, putting the whole ecosystem at risk, as well as public health, by passing from the water to plants we cultivate and the animals we eat”.

For those who eat meat from animals shot by hunters, risks are even higher: game meat from the European Union contains, on average, 12-31 times more lead than the maximum permitted for registered producers.

Says SPEA, “these levels are worrying for a metal that can cause neurological problems…”

The prohibition of lead is “urgent”, says the NGO, and will contribute to the preservation of Nature, soil and water resources.

The ECHA’s warning comes a full two years since SPEA and five other Portuguese NGOs – GEOTA, FAPAS, LPN, Quercus, and ANP/ WWF – came together to call for an end to lead shot, and its substitution with ‘non-polluting materials’.

The government’s response at the time was to put an extra tax on the price of cartridges, which environmentalists denounce for being ‘the wrong answer’.

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