Study links hunters' ammo with lead exposure to wildlife

Hunters may minimize lead exposure to wildlife, especially such scavengers as golden eagles that feed on carrion, through choosing proper types of ammunition, a new study noted. 

"Choosing an ammunition type, such as .22-caliber solid bullets, that creates substantially fewer fragments can be a way to minimize lead exposure to scavengers and other wildlife," said Collin Eagles-Smith, co-author of a study on links between ammo used by hunters and lead exposure to wildlife. 

Some pests "are really an economic threat to farmers, and shooting them is one method to control their numbers," said Ealges-Smith, an ecologist from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and a courtesy assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife at Oregon State University (OSU). 

"Picking up every last carcass is not realistic, but there are choices people can make regarding ammunition that may result in smaller amounts of lead in the carcasses left behind," the researcher was quoted as saying in a news release from the OSU this week. 

The study was conducted by a team of researchers who used a new bullet-fragment recovery technique known as "digestion" to look at how much lead remained in the 127 ground squirrel carcasses from alfalfa fields in southern Oregon and northern California and how that is correlated with the type of bullets used.  Read more...