2011 Resolution: Lead Ammunition and Fishing Tackle
Lead is a highly toxic metal that in very small quantities can have a range of detrimental effects on humans, public health, and fish and wildlife. The ingestion of lead from ammunition (shot and bullet projectiles) or fishing tackle (lures and weights) has been documented and can cause mortality in several bird species.
The impact of lead on wildlife has been most extensively studied in birds with particular focus on doves, loons, and condors, eagles and other scavenging birds. It is believed that loons ingest small lead fishing tackle when naturally consuming small pebbles for digestive grit. Geese and ducks consume spent lead shot and/or tackle in similar ways in the water and while foraging on the ground. Condors and other scavenging birds have been exposed most commonly when feeding on entrails and other remains of game animals which contain lead fragments.
However, ammunition and tackle manufacturers and their trade associations argue that scientific evidence does not document population-level impacts of lead ingestion on wildlife.
There are a number of federal and state policies that restrict the use of certain lead ammunition and fishing tackle. For example, since 1991, only non-toxic shot can be used to hunt waterfowl nationwide. To date, six states prohibit the use or sale of lead weights and sinkers in some all or all waters in those states.
Alternatives to lead fishing tackle and ammunition are becoming more available in the market. However, alternatives are currently not available for every form of tackle or in every caliber or gauge of ammunition and generally cost more than their lead counterparts.
Chapter IX of the IWLA policies proclaim, “because of the serious problem of lead shot poisoning of waterfowl and secondary poisoning of bald eagles, the League has supported a phased conversion to nontoxic shot for hunting migratory waterfowl. Similarly, the League encourages the use of nontoxic fishing weights in areas where lead can cause a problem.”
Therefore, be it resolved that the Izaak Walton League of America, assembled in convention in Des Moines, Iowa, July 15, 2011, because of the toxicity of some forms of lead and its potential impact on wildlife, encourages:
- The use of non-toxic ammunition and fishing lures and weights in areas where lead is demonstrated to be a problem.
- Manufacturers of ammunition and fishing tackle to develop environmentally-friendly and cost-effective alternatives to lead projectiles and fishing lures and weights.
- Users of these products to take advantage of these alternatives as they become available.