Shooters are ignoring the lead ban and shooting ducks with lead shot, according to a study funded by Defra and carried out by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
Researchers found that 70% of ducks purchased from English game dealers, butchers and supermarkets had been shot illegally with lead. The study concluded that amongst those supplying game dealers and retail outlets, compliance with the law on lead shot is poor.
The WWT press release says that although their survey showed relatively good understanding of the spirit* of the law, up to 45% of respondents admitted to not always complying. "Survey responses included the belief that lead poisoning was not a sufficient problem to justify the regulations, and there were perceived issues** surrounding availability, cost and efficiency of the alternatives to lead, together with a lack of enforcement of the regulations."
[* Note 'spirit'. I'll bet that understanding of the practical details is much lower - hence the 45%, some of whom may be saying 'I've probably broken it because I don't really understand what it says'.
** Despite what's being claimed on other blogs, 'perceived issues' is not the same thing as someone saying 'I break the law cos I'm unlikely to get caught'. This is not the same 45% explaining 'why' they broke the law. And what's with "up to 45%". Was it 45 % or wasn't it? 2% falls within "up to 45%".]
The WWT calls on the government "to take urgent action to ensure that the risk of lead poisoning in waterbirds is substantially reduced by ensuring that lead gunshot is no longer used over wetlands or for shooting waterfowl and that the UK honours its international commitments."
Antis, from LACS to RSPB, will love it - I suspect the sirens are already sounding at BASC HQ. Oh look, Avery is jumping up and down with excitement already.
One interesting claim made in Avery's blog post: he says, "Defra has just withdrawn its secretarial support from the Lead Ammunition Group." (On checking I discover that this too is misleading - they simply can't spare anyone over the next couple of months, but there will be Defra staff available in time for the next scheduled meeting).
Oh how they're loving it... WWT themselves misleadingly tweeted:
It doesn't of course - it confirms that lead shot is still rather effective at bringing them down.
All in all, pretend outrage at poor compliance with a stupid and poorly communicated law which is misdirected at the species being shot rather than the type of land where the shot will fall. Further proof of the RSPB's anti-shooting agenda.
And no, that doesn't mean I condone lawbreaking. Responsible shooters should always comply with the letter of the law, no matter how silly it is - but that needn't stop us campaigning to get it changed.