Lead is poison. A total ban is needed

Home » News » Wetland Biodiversity » Waterbirds » International Waterbird Census » African-Eurasian Waterbird Census » Lead is poison. A total ban is needed

This week, the European Parliament, in its plenary setting, will vote the proposal of the Commission to ban the use of lead gunshot in wetlands, following the positive vote of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on 29 October.

Last week, Wetlands International, together with Conservation without Borders, Eurogroup for Animals, European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Migratory Birds for People and WWT  sent a letter to the Members of the European Parliament urging them to end this old-fashioned polluting habit and support the proposal from the Commission to ban use of lead gunshot in wetlands as a significant step to a toxic-free future

The health of European citizens, biodiversity and the environment is at stake as a result of the use of toxic lead gunshot. The Commission is seeking to repair this through a ban on the use of lead gunshot in wetlands.

A very small proportion of EU citizens release 1000s of tonnes of toxic lead gunshot into the environment year on year. This is despite excellent non-toxic alternative gunshot types being available which are comparably priced and in common usage in many Member States.

The price of the toxic pollution is currently being borne by:

  1. One million waterbirds poisoned to death annually, millions more suffering;
  2. People exposed to lead gunshot in their food – of particular importance to children and pregnant women due to impacts of lead on the developing brain;
  3. Soils contaminated and then poisoned for future agricultural use.

The proposal is proportionate, entirely workable and supported by:

  • European Chemicals Agency
  • European Commission
  • REACH Committee
  • ENVI Committee
  • The European Scientists – medics, vets and scientists
  • Progressive hunters who care about sustainability of their sport
  • Majority of EU citizens who want their MEPs to choose health over poison.

An objection to this proposal is being promoted by those hunters who have yet to accept the toxic nature of their ammunition and some ammunition manufacturers despite them also producing the non-toxic alternatives. Removing lead from petrol and paint faced resistance from industry – removing lead from gunshot is facing the same challenges.

We urge MEPs not to be misled and not to support the objection.

Further information can be found here.

The letter was supported by:
Sacha Dench, CEO, UN Ambassador for Migratory Species (CMS), Conservation Without Borders
Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals
Hugo Fernández Bellon, President, European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians
Joanna Swabe, Senior Director of Public Affairs, Humane Society International
Staci McLennan, Office Director, European Union, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Chris Rostron, Coordinator, Migratory Birds for People
Jane Madgwick, CEO, Wetlands International
James Robinson, Conservation Director, WWT