Lead bullets, fishing tackle poison animals and humans

To the editor:

Every year, hunters deposit tens of thousands of tons of lead, from bullet fragments, into our environment. Consequently, during the Obama administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would phase out the use of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle in national wildlife refuges and waterways. Sadly, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke overturned this ban.

An estimated 20 to 30 million birds and other animals die of lead poisoning every year in America. Lead, which breaks into fragments upon impact, is ingested by animals who eat the remains of animals left outdoors by hunters. Just tiny bits of ingested lead leave bald eagles unable to fly or lift their heads.

The meat from animals killed by lead bullets, which hunters bring home or sell or donate for human consumption, often contains lead shards that can wreak havoc for people, especially children. This is true even when butchering and cleaning the animals. The hunter avoids using meat immediately surrounding the lead bullet and path through the animal. New studies indicate the input dispersion of lead through the animal’s body is more extensive than previously thought.

And the gut piles left behind by hunters destroy animals who eat the lead-infested remains.

Comparably priced non-lead ammunition and equipment is available. Studies have linked lead bullets fired outdoors at shooting ranges to increased pollution of soil and water that can harm people, animals and our environment. Lead shouldn’t be used in bullets and fishing equipment.

Joel Freedman