Conservation groups from 35 states have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency in favor of regulating lead hunting ammunition.
The organizations assert that lead rounds used by hunters pose a threat to public health and can poison eagles and other wildlife.
Bryan Bedrosian is the avian program director for Craighead Beringia – a non-profit wildlife research organization in Wyoming. He says his group’s studies show that a high proportion of ravens and eagles have elevated levels of lead in their blood.
“A bullet contacts an animal, it mushrooms and it releases these small, microscopic little fragments that are then deposited in the gut pile,” says Bedrosian. “And when a hunter leaves a gut pile out in the field and the birds come down to eat on that, that’s when they’re ingesting the lead.”
In 2010, the EPA refused to review a petition asking for a ban on shells and rounds containing lead claiming that the Agency lacked authority to regulate lead ammunition. Alternatives to lead ammunition include copper rounds.
Bedrosian says over the last three years, his organization has given out free, copper ammunition to hunters in the Jackson area and as a result, he says lead levels in animals have declined.