In the last issue of Espaces naturels (n°71, July-September 2020), an article co-written by Anthony Olivier, a ranger at the Tour du Valat National Nature Reserve, Jean-Yves Mondain-Monval, and Olivier Cardoso, was published on the difficulties of enforcing the ban on lead shot among wetland hunters.
Yet lead is a very toxic metal whose harmful effects on animals have been clearly demonstrated.
The shells found after the hunting season along the Tour du Valat Nature Reserve in the Camargue show that 55% of the ammunition used is still lead-based, 15 years after such shot was prohibited (cf. chart below).
Evolution of the percentage of lead pellet shells and alternative ammunition, from 2008 to 2020 on communal land along the Tour du Valat Nature Reserve in the Camargue.
The authors explain that hunters’ resistance to change stems in particular from their fear that alternative shot will be less effective (and cripple more birds), by the higher cost of alternative ammunition, and by the skepticism of some hunters who are poorly informed about the realities of lead poisoning.
To bring about a change in behavior, the authors make the following suggestions:
- Hunters should be better informed about lead poisoning – via hunting magazines and in the courses they must take to obtain a hunting license;
- More frequent controls should be conducted by game wardens in order to enforce the law more strictly;
- We must continue improving our knowledge of the ecotoxological impacts of alternative ammunition to confirm the environmental relevance of these changes in hunting practices.