Lead ammunition finally banned from wetlands

Good news for Europe's waterbirds: the use of lead shot ammunition in wetland hunting has finally been banned. The law came into force on 15 February 2023. For bird conservationists, however, this should only be the beginning.

waterbirds on a lake

Water birds, such as the Ferruginous Duck, will benefit from the ban.

© Schneider-Jacoby
empty ammunition

The legacy of a dubious pleasure. The ban will also reduce environmental lead pollution in wetlands.

© Borut Stumberger

In all 27 EU countries (as well as Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein) a ban on the use of leaded ammunition in wetlands has been in force since 15 February. This law will save the lives of around one million waterfowl per year that currently die in the EU from lead poisoning as a result of hunting.

Lead shot is particularly problematic for waterbirds that ingest lead pellets, mistaking them for grit: small particles of stone or sand. Ducks and co. need these for their digestion. The ban will also decrease the secondary poisoning of raptors and scavengers, which are regularly poisoned while eating prey contaminated with lead shot.

„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“, said Ilka Beermann from EuroNatur. „But our goal is a complete ban on lead ammunition in all habitats. We are working on this together with our partners," said the project manager.

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