School Me on Lead Shot

A new reader emailed me a couple of days ago and sent along some photos.  Here’s the background information:

Just came across your blog. I haven’t had time to thoroughly go thru yet, sorry.

Hey, there’s eight years worth of stuff. No biggie.

But here’s what I’d like to say.

Attached photos disgust and upset me. But I know its not the guns fault, its the jackasses fault. I used to do a lot more target shooting myself, nothing like this though. And always took more back than I brought. I have a few firearms, and hunt. I’m not against firearms and hunting. I’m against stupidity, and jackasses. This frozen lake is home to salmon and nesting waterfowl, including trumpeter swans. Waterfowl die upon eating lead shot. Laws prohibit lead shot for hunting waterfowl, but no law prevents using lead shot to bust some clays over the lake. That’s where personal responsibility comes hand in hand with personal liberty.

Here are the photos:

My reader adds:

These photos were taken at Mud Lake in the (Jim Creek area), near Palmer Alaska, on January 31, 2005. The photos show the results from maybe one day of clay pigeon target shooting over the lake. I have seen this on different occasions over the last couple of years. This time is the first time I’ve been out here in the winter, when the lake is frozen, which makes a good example of what’s going on. The amount of leads hot, and clay pigeon fragments on this day alone should alarm those of you who care about our water quality, and especially the survival of our living aquatic resources. Swans, loons, and just about all types of other water birds utilize this lake for feeding and nesting. The high toxicity of lead shot to these birds is very well documented in the literature. A mallard duck has a 20% chance of dying from ingesting just one lead shot. It is the reason, why hunting waterfowl with lead shot has been banned throughout the USA and Canada. The number of lead shot going into Mud Lake (and Jim Lake) from target shooting is astounding, and needs to be halted.

I would think that anybody cares about waterfowl, who even likes to hunt waterfowl would be absolutely 100% behind efforts to help end this disgrace to our environment.

On another instance I was standing there taking photos of swans, and a guy and his son show up with a pidgeon throwing. The kid says “dad look, can we shoot them?” of course dad says no. Then, at least dad said oh I’ll wait until your done before I start shooting. Then I explain to him all the reasons why he should find a different place to shoot, and he just replies, “well, I am using steel shot.” What am I going to say, I just left. We have good well-managed ranges, but they cost money, I understand that. But to shoot anything into a lake with salmon and waterfowls? Doesn’t sit right.

I’m not a shotgunner. I own exactly one shotgun – a Mossberg 590 riot gun. I’ve shot some skeet and trap, and busted some clays for fun on private property, but I haven’t followed the non-toxic shot saga much. I’m not a hunter, either, but the idea of banning lead bullets in varmint or big-game hunting is one that makes me want to get my wookie on.  I’ve seen the bullshit that the VPC has published on the horrible threat of lead poisoning from recreational shooting, thank you.

From the (limited) research I’ve done, it does seem that lead shot presented a poisoning hazard to waterfowl that ingested it from wetlands, and I know that clay pigeons are a hazard to pigs, which will apparently eat just about anything laying on the ground no matter how bad it tastes. I don’t get the concern about the salmon, however.  They’re not bottom feeders. 

What I see in this picture, though, leaves me with mixed feelings. One, leaving the shotshell hulls on the ground was just littering and not excusable. The clay pigeons on the ice? Unsightly, but when the lake thaws the pieces will end up on the bottom and not bother anything. The shot? Somehow I doubt it will represent much of a hazard to waterfowl unless that lake is VERY shallow, but I could be wrong. If I were to shoot out over a lake, non-toxic shot would be the way to go.

So educate me. Is my reader overreacting, justifiably pissed off, or somewhere in between?

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