Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Lead ban isn't working

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One interesting claim made in Avery's blog post: he says, "Defra has just withdrawn its secretarial support from the Lead Ammunition Group."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.


Meconopsis said...

The law in Scotland makes it an offence to use lead within 300 yards of a permanent water course i.e a river pond or loch. Thus no bird or mammal may be shot with lead in these areas.


It seams completely bonkers to me that in England you may hold a clay pigeon shoot over an estuary distributing hundredweights of lead if you so desire. The English species specific lead ban was ill thought through as were so many other Labour laws.

vicky said...

The English law is daft. Lead shot has not been shown to be a hazard to human health (yet!)and we can still eat pheasants shot with lead. Lead is a problem over wetlands so obviously lead should not be used there....but why can't reared duck flushed from a pond and shot over a stubble field be shot with lead? I'm sure many of these 'illegally' shot duck are shot on mixed duck/pheasant drives by people not wanting to 'waste' too many expensive 'non-toxic' shells of pheasants. Give people a reasonable law, and alternatives to lead at the same price and they'll comply. Give them a daft law and expensive alternatives and don't be surprised if they don't.

James Marchington said...

Hear hear Vicky - and I'd add that people are also reluctant to use shells that they arent confident will kill the birds cleanly - they'd rather break a daft law than see birds fly off wounded.

I can't condone lawbreaking, but some laws just beg to be broken, and it comes as no surprise when they are.