05 January 2007

Get the Lead Out!

There is no need for condors to be dying of lead poisoning (HCN, 2/18/02: Condor program laden with lead). This is a problem that is also increasingly documented for other birds -- such as bald and golden eagles -- that scavenge hunter's kills. There are already several alternatives to lead bullets on the market. For more than a decade, solid copper bullets have proven effective on all game. Though currently expensive for shooters who do a lot of target shooting, the cost to hunt with copper bullets is negligible when compared with what hunters pay for rifles, four-wheel-drive vehicles, a tank of gas, and other gear.

Once they understood the harm done to waterfowl, hunters readily abandoned lead shot. Conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited have done a great job in publicizing the harm done by lead shot. Groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation could effectively do the same for the move away from lead bullets.

Few hunters and conservationists, myself included, want to be responsible for poisoning condors, golden eagles and other scavengers. Hunters such as Teddy Roosevelt, William Hornaday and Aldo Leopold were leaders in the conservation movement. The National Rifle Association has been fighting any curbs on lead bullets, but the NRA is plumb crazy on this issue, and should either lead or get out of the way.

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