Veterinary Support Needed for Effort to Require Use of Non-Lead Ammunition in Hunting

Many wildlife species are potential victims of lead poisoning, including deer.  Maggie Brasted/The HSUS

March 20, 2015
by Barbara Hodges, DVM, MBA, HSVMA Veterinary Advisor

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly substantiates the toxic effects of lead on more than 130 species, and many veterinary professionals have observed these devastating effects firsthand while diagnosing and treating animals suffering from lead poisoning. Read one veterinarian’s experience in treating an eagle poisoned with lead»

Furthermore, despite a 1991 federal prohibition on the use of lead ammunition to hunt waterfowl and additional requirements later enacted by 34 states, studies demonstrate higher blood lead levels in prey and non-prey species during hunting seasons. Significant impacts on scavenging species that feed on lead-tainted animal remains have also been documented.

A recent commentary that appeared in JAVMA (J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014 Dec 1; 245) entitled, “Are there legitimate reasons to retain lead ammunition and fishing gear?” provides a good overview of this issue. Written by veterinary toxicologists and avian experts, the commentary urges the veterinary profession, specifically the AVMA, to take a more proactive stance regarding replacing lead ammunition.

To help address this critical animal welfare, human health and environmental issue, HSVMA is collecting veterinary endorsements on a statement supporting non-lead ammunition use in hunting and other forms of wildlife shooting such as depredation, control killing and non-game shooting.

By adding your signature to the "Veterinary Statement of Support for a Requirement to Use Non-Lead Ammunition," you will be affirming the status of lead as a potent toxin and stating your support for the reduction and eventual elimination of lead released into the environment through the passage of policies.

If you wish to join your colleagues and become a signatory, please fill out our online endorsement form or, if you prefer, you can download and sign the endorsement form and fax or email it back to us by April 30, 2015 (fax number and email address are on the form).

Your support will be critical, since legislators and policy makers highly value the opinions of veterinary professionals on issues pertaining to animal health and welfare. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Dr. Barbara Hodges