Failure of lead ammunition ban caused by Julia Klöckner's ministry

The Europe-wide ban on hunting with lead ammunition failed to gain approval last week – due to opposition from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). Consequently, the painful death of millions of waterfowl will continue for the time being; there remains some hope, however.

The legacy of a hunting trip: in addition to direct persecution, lead poisoning causes the death of millions of birds in Europe.

© Borut Stumberger

On Tuesday 23 June, after more than five years of debate, hunting with lead ammunition should have finally been banned in the EU. The proposal failed due to Germany’s abstention, a move which became necessary after the BMEL blocked the ban’s approval. The reason – concerns, on animal welfare grounds, that lead-free ammunition would kill less effectively – is both scientifically refuted and cynical. Every year, more than a million waterfowl die in Europe as a direct result of lead poisoning. The birds ingest the small lead pellets whilst foraging for food. Thus, in addition to direct hunting, habitat loss and the consequences of climate change, this collateral damage poses an additional threat to Europe's waterfowl.

Lead-free alternatives have existed for a long time. They kill equally effectively and, at the same time, do not lead to poisoning in birds, fish and often also humans, as the lead ends up on our plates when we eat game and fish. EuroNatur and its partners are calling on the German Ministry of Agriculture to withdraw the boycott and to follow the recommendations of the European Commission as well as the stance taken by numerous other EU countries. In the Netherlands, for example, hunting with lead shot has been banned since 1993.

Should the position of Klöckner's ministry remain unchanged, the decision will be put before the European Council. As things stand at the moment, there is strong evidence to suggest there is a majority in favour of a ban. The Europe-wide ban on hunting with lead ammunition would then be implemented after all and Germany would be seen as a foot-dragger in matters of nature conservation.

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