Wildfowl still being killed by illegal lead

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A large number of Britain’s waterbirds are still being killed by lead poisoning despite the introduction of legislation to prevent the problem.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) found that 10 per cent of dead waterbirds collected between 1971 and 2010 died from the highly-toxic metal. Eight per cent were fatally poisoned between 2000 and 2010, with lead gunshot being the most likely source of poisoning.

The trust argued that laws restricting the use of lead in angling weights and ammunition were not working and called on a review of the legislation.

It said: “Existing legislation needs review and extension to ensure the delivery of international commitments and a broad-scale transition to the use of non-toxic shot and angling materials in all environments.”

The WWT study, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, showed elevated levels of lead were discovered in the blood of 34 per cent of waterbirds tested at four sites in Britain despite laws on lead use being introduced.