Hunting Lead-Free & Saving Wildlife
At this time in Iowa, waterfowl hunters must use US Fish & Wildlife Service approved non-toxic/non-lead shot. Many state and county areas also require non-toxic/non-lead shot for all hunting. In many situations, however, pheasant, turkey, rabbit, and deer hunters are still allowed to use lead ammunition. SOAR encourages all hunters and firearms shooters to "go lead free" for wildlife and human health.
In November 2010, SOAR was awarded a Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP-CEP) grant to develop educational materials for the Iowa Hunter Education Program outlining the toxic effects of lead and the current research on lead's impact on the environment. A committee of hunter education instructors, DNR law enforcement and wildlife bureau staff, wildlife and conservation groups, SOAR volunteers, and concerned citizens reviewed text and provided feedback.
See the "Hunting Lead-Free" brochure. Download a screen-quality PDF.
If you would like to download a press-quality PDF (2,680 kb with printer's marks) for printing and sharing with your group, please contact SOAR. This handout is 4.25x11 inches double-sided.
This version of the "Hunting Lead-Free" handout has the same info but is 8.5x11 inches one-sided and *should* print on home printers, but would be able to printed at your local copy and print shop.
Below is the text of the brochure with research and informational citations included in boxes.
What the links are:
Hunting Lead Free & Saving Wildlife
People who hunt:
- love being outside,
- are interested in wildlife,
- support wildlife research and habitat conservation through license fees, and
- are problem-solvers.
Wildlife needs hunters’ help.
Over 130 different species of wildlife have been impacted by eating lead.
Wildlife Impacted by Lead:
Upland birds and waterfowl, like pheasants and ducks, mistake lead shot for seeds or grit and eat it.
Ingesting lead is harmful to wild animals.
- An eagle can die from eating a very small fragment of a lead slug or rifle bullet.
- A duck can die from eating 1-2 pieces of lead shot.
- Lead can affect an animal’s ability to find food, hide from predators, and fight off diseases.
X-ray of a deer carcass that was shot with lead deer slugs, reveals that the main body of the slug traveled completely through the deer, but lead shrapnel fragments were left in the carcass at the points where the slugs passed through and shattered bone. This shrapnel looks quite similar to the irregular shrapnel pieces found in eagle digestive systems. In this x-ray of a deer's mid-section, you can see the lead fragments where the slug went through the ribs below the spine and grazed the top of the spine.
On this eagle x-ray, the head would be to the top and the legs and tail to the bottom of the x-ray. The white spots in about the center of the photo are pieces of lead shrapnel. This is about where the stomach would be. Eagles have very strong, efficient digestive systems. The lead is usually dissolved in the stomach and sickness occurs very shortly after ingestion. Often, a lead poisoned eagle will become injured because of impaired nervous system, vision problems, or breathing problems caused by the lead.
Ingesting lead is harmful to people.
Some packages of venison from deer shot with lead rifle bullets contained more than 100 ppm lead. Items with 100 ppm lead or above are considered hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some venison from deer shot with lead slugs contained 0.7 ppm lead. This venison would not meet the standards for export to Europe or China. Image © Cornatzer and Fogarty
- Lead fragments have been found in deer meat.
- Your body takes in lead and stores it like calcium. When growing bodies are exposed to lead they absorb more of it, making children and pregnant women most at risk.
- Even very low levels of lead can cause learning and attention deficit disorders.
- Lead affects the nervous system the most.
There are several types of bullets, slugs, and shot being made from non-lead/non-toxic products.
Waterfowl hunters have already switched to using non-toxic shot. This has saved millions of ducks from lead poisoning. This is cost-effective conservation.
Concerned about lead poisoning?
Here’s what you can do!
Spread the word, talk to your friends about lead.
Do some research.
For more information about lead, visit:
Test it out!
- Non-toxic shot comes in steel and combinations of other metals (see: US Fish & Wildlife Service listing of approved shot types).
- Knowing how your shotgun patterns with different shot and at different distances is the key to success!
- Rifle bullets and shotgun slugs are made from solid copper.
- Make sure to sight in your firearm using the copper slugs or bullets.
Links to help you test it out!
If you can’t find non-lead ammunition at your local store, ask them to stock some. Increased demand brings down prices. Watch for sales during the off-season.
Using copper bullets and slugs and non toxic shot saves wildlife and helps humans. You can help the environment and make great hunting memories for you and your family.
A hunter education class:
- stresses the importance of individual responsibility and outdoor ethics.
- promotes ethics and fair chase, hunter responsibility, and landowner relations.
It is illegal to poison wildlife, as noted in these state and federal laws:
- The Iowa Code
- Migratory Bird Treaty Act
- Bald and Golden Eagle Act
We offer this information, so those that enjoy hunting can make an informed decision about their choice of ammunition.