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C.A.S.H. Letters

Lead shot is toxic

400 wd LTE’s to Jackson Hole News & Guide editor@jhnewsandguide.com
Cody Enterprise - http://www.codyenterprise.com/ 

Casper Star Tribune – letters@casperstartribune.net 

14 Sep 2007

To The Editor:

One of the things hunting organizations always claim is that hunters are environmentalists who care for the natural world. If this is the case, why then are hunters polluting the environment and poisoning wildlife by using lead ammunition when other types are readily available?

Lead is a toxic time-bomb that poisons the soil, ground and pond water, and animals up and down the food chain. Un-recovered wounded birds are eaten by other animals who can later die of lead poisoning. These animals are in turn eaten by others and so begins a chain of death that potentially has no end.

In California, hunting has been implicated in the lead poisoning death of an endangered California condor at the Los Angeles Zoo. As a result of this tragedy, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering a bill that will outlaw use of bullets containing lead for hunting in the state's condor range.

Locally, researchers say the use of lead ammunition poisons scavengers like ravens and eagles in the Jackson Hole area. When wildlife dies of lead poisoning due to lead ammunition, Wyoming Game and Fish is to blame. Game and Fish shoulders the culpability because it allows the use of lead ammunition despite knowing that lead is a toxic pollutant that degrades the environment and poisons wildlife.

We must change the way state wildlife agencies conduct business before another endangered species is wiped off the face of the earth. The future of wildlife management lies in wildlife watching programs which can support an economy that far surpasses the current one dependent on weapons and violence. Let’s repeal the tax on weapons and ammunition and replace it with one on items such as binoculars, backpacks, and other outdoor-related equipment used by wildlife watchers. Funds collected from these taxes can be dedicated toward the preservation of wildlife and the areas where they live, making the need to depend on hunting obsolete.

To protect wildlife from lead shot and other threats and to preserve the areas where they live, please visit www.wildwatch.org

Joe Miele, Vice President
Wildlife Watch, Inc.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561
201-880-4989

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Study: Lead Bullets Poison Birds in Wyo.
1 day ago

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Researchers say fragments from lead bullets continue to poison scavengers like ravens and eagles in the Jackson Hole area.

Scientists say levels of lead in ravens' blood increases fivefold during hunting season, or mid-September through mid-December. The lead likely comes from bullet fragments left behind in the carcasses of elk, moose and deer, said researchers Derek Craighead and Bryan Bedrosian with the Kelly-based group Craighead Beringia South.

Such contamination could be avoided by using alternatives such as copper bullets, they said.

Other scavengers probably eat the lead as well, the researchers said, including bald eagles, bears, coyotes and wolves, all of which feed on gut piles left behind by hunters. And they said the lead could poison people who eat meat from game animals killed by lead bullets.
The study involved drawing blood from 302 ravens trapped during the 2004 and 2005 hunting seasons, as well from birds trapped between hunting seasons. The report is set for publication in the Journal of Wildlife Management, Craighead and Bedrosian said.

Bedrosian said he's captured about 200 more ravens and eagles and those birds' blood continues to show high levels of lead during hunting season. He said he also has been collecting bear, wolf and coyote carcasses to begin looking for lead in those animals.

The Craighead Beringia South study comes as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger considers a bill that will outlaw use of bullets containing lead for big game and varmint hunting in the state's condor range. The bill was approved by the California State Senate on Sept. 4.

The Craighead Beringia South scientists recommend a similar switch in Wyoming.

"It's a pretty easy problem to fix, considering that non-lead ammunition is readily available and not that much more expensive," Bedrosian said. "As a hunter myself who has switched, I haven't noticed any change in hunting success. The only change I've noticed is that I'm eating lead-free meat."

But Bedrosian said it would be better not to ban lead bullets with a law.

"We really would like to get local support for this, rather than have legislation like it is in California," he said. "Personally, I think the hunting community around here cares about the environment enough and realizes this is an issue for our wildlife."

Bedrosian said the lead stays in animals' blood for only about two weeks. Then it gets deposited in the brain, bone marrow and other internal organs.

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