By Andrew Gilruth, Director of Communications & Membership
This week’s statement on a five-year transition away from the use of single-use plastic and lead, in shotgun ammunition for those shooting game, has prompted many of you to get in touch. We were expecting a wide range of comments because that is exactly what you told us earlier this year:
In January, we launched a survey asking if you thought it was time to move away from lead. Almost 4,000 responded, with 53% saying we should.
These findings reflected the questions I was commonly asked when I talked about lead over the last 18 months at GWCT members’ roadshow events. Whilst I can't even pretend that, in writing in our members’ magazine Gamewise and speaking at over 25 events, I would reach the attention of all our members, I can honestly say I have done my best to speak to as many people as I could.
At these talks, I was able to share my own journey on lead. In 2015 I was one of the people who was actively involved in briefing MPs in Westminster ahead of the debate on banning lead ammunition. I watched the debate and subsequent vote and travelled home content that we had done a great job.
However, since then many things have changed. Emerging evidence on the impact of lead to human health is now dire (the GWCT does not have human health experts and so we must rely on toxicology experts around the globe for this). There is also more evidence about wildlife. The first GWCT study on the impacts on grey partridges (2005 – 75% of those that ingest lead die) was small in scale. However, it has now been replicated by other studies over a range of species in a number of other countries. They all show similar negative effects.
The final point is that cartridges themselves have developed to the point where there are some suitable alternatives. However, there are still real knowledge gaps – particularly about which ammunition is best suited to which scenario and in which gun. This is why we have called for a five-year transition, not a ban. This allows for adjustments to be made and new products developed.
I am one of those lucky people who regularly have the opportunity to put my head above the parapet in newspapers, radio and occasionally on TV to defend the huge contribution that good game management makes to wildlife. I also go to various protest rallies, including Hen Harrier Day. For doing this I receive a fair amount of abuse, both in private and public, from people such as Chris Packham and Mark Avery. I don’t mind – it’s what makes me get out of bed. I don’t care what they think. I do care that the truth is told. However, please don’t get in touch and ask me to defend the indefensible on lead.
If you are one of the people I have not had a chance to speak to at one of the many previous GWCT members’ roadshow events, perhaps join me at one of the spring dates by booking here. It would be lovely to see you. It will be me speaking, and I encourage members to ask questions as we go along, which certainly makes it interesting for me. There will also be updates about recent research and the General Licences.
Next members’ roadshow talks - book now