Hunt and Fish Lead Free

Wildlife need our help!

Over 130 different species of wildlife are known to ingest lead ammunition or fishing tackle and die.

Upland birds, like pheasants and doves, plus ducks and other waterfowl, mistake lead shot for seeds or grit and eat it.

Scavengers, like eagles and hawks, can ingest lead when eating fish, game animal carcass, or gut piles.

eagle on deer carcass
eagle on deer carcass

Why is lead harmful?

  • Lead is a toxin, a poison.
  • Lead fragments have been found in processed deer meat.
  • Even very low levels of lead can cause learning and attention deficit disorders in children.
  • Lead can affect an animal's health, impairing it's ability to find food, hide from predators, and fight off diseases.
CT scan venison packages

Some packages of venison from deer shot with lead rifle bullets contained more than 100 ppm lead. Items with 100 ppm lead or above are considered hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some venison from deer shot with lead slugs contained 0.7 ppm lead. This venison would not meet the standards for export to Europe or China. Image © Cornatzer and Fogarty

deer carcass x-ray

X-ray of a deer carcass that was shot with a lead deer slug, reveals that the main body of the slug traveled completely through the deer, but lead shrapnel fragments were left in the carcass at the points where the slug passed through and shattered bone. In this x-ray of a deer's mid-section, the lead fragments are circled where the slug went through the ribs below the spine and grazed the top of the spine.

shrapnel in eagle x-ray

Lead shrapnel can sometimes be detected in the x-ray of an eagle. On this eagle x-ray, the head would be to the top and the legs and tail to the bottom of the x-ray. The white spots in about the center of the photo are pieces of lead shrapnel. This is about where the stomach would be. Eagles have very strong, efficient digestive systems. The lead is usually dissolved in the stomach and sickness occurs very shortly after ingestion. Often, a lead-poisoned eagle will become injured because of an impaired nervous system, vision problems, or breathing problems caused by the lead.

Here's what you can do!

Use non-lead ammunition and fishing tackle. If you can't find non-lead ammo or fishing tackle at your local store, ask them to stock some. Increased demand brings down prices. Watch for off-season sales.

Waterfowl hunters have already switched to using non-toxic shot.  This has saved millions of ducks from lead poisoning. Simply removing lead from waterfowl hunting has helped to make duck populations more robust and this conservation measure insured manufacturers a market for non-toxic shot, allowing them to invest in development, re-tooling, and marketing. There are now a wide assortment of non-toxic shot types to choose from and waterfowl hunters are still enjoying their time in the field. This is cost-effective conservation.

Upland game hunters that use non-toxic shot also contribute to cost-effective conservation by reducing spent lead being deposited on the landscape.

Leaving behind spent lead ammunition for a non-target species to ingest is poisoning. This poisoning is completely preventable. The solution also provides the hunter a better slug, bullet, and shot.

For more information about lead, visit:

In the US, waterfowl hunters must use US Fish & Wildlife Service approved non-toxic/non-lead shot. Many state and county areas in Iowa and across the country also require non-toxic/non-lead shot for all upland game hunting. In many situations, however, pheasant, turkey, rabbit, and deer hunters are still allowed to use lead ammunition.

Here is some history behind the lead shot ban for waterfowl hunting: Eyes on Conservation podcast 114, Milton Friend explains how lead shot became banned from use in waterfowl hunting. This is over an hour-long podcast... but worth the history lesson!

See more here: Research articles and information about the impacts of lead on humans and wildlife