At long last: The EU bans lead shot in wetland areas

Good news for Europe’s water birds: hunting in wetlands with toxic lead shot is to be banned. So, every year in the EU about 1.5 million water birds are saved from completely unnecessary death from lead poisoning. EuroNatur and its partner organisations from all over Europe have been campaigning hard for this ban.

Male garganey on a lake

Millions of water birds, including rarities such as the garganey, are likely to benefit from this ban.

© René Bürgisser

On 3rd September the EU states agreed to a proposal by the European Commission to ban hunting with lead shot in wetlands. This had been preceded by a year of discussions in which the German Federal government had raised unreasonable objections. The Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture blocked the proposal at the beginning of July by abstaining. In the past weeks a broad range of nature conservation organisations, including EuroNatur, had been calling on the minister, Julia Klöckner, to change her position.

Dr. Stefan Ferger, leader of the migratory bird project at EuroNatur, welcomed the decision in Brussels: “The ban on lead shot in wetland areas will save the lives of millions of birds each year, and will save our ecosystems from pollution by tons of highly poisonous lead. It is another victory for common sense and the science behind the protection of nature and consumers. There now needs to be a general ban on lead ammunition in all habitats.”

This ban should put an end to the large scale and painful killing above all of water birds. It is above all geese and ducks which take the minute lead shot from the water and the areas along the banks. They mistake the deadly lead shot for small stones which they need for digestion. Even some carrion feeders such as the White-tailed Eagle die from the consumption of contaminated prey.

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