28/08/2009

Lead Shot 'Fired'

Sportsmen won't be able to use the traditional 'lead shot' anymore.

Wildfowlers have been banned from using the poisionous shot when they are shooting over wetlands in Northern Ireland.

The ban comes in on September 1 (Tuesday) and will affect anyone who uses a shotgun near wetlands, whether it is for wildfowling, clay pigeon shooting or any other purpose.

Ironically, since the shot is used to kill birds for sport, many wildfowl also die of lead poisoning after consuming lead shot which has fallen into the mud or water where they feed.

Birds often ingest spent shot when taking in grit to aid digestion, and suffer a lingering and painful death - rather than the more 'sporting', sudden 'irreversible termination of the biological functions' attributed to being shot.

NI Environment Minister Edwin Poots said this week: "This is an important step towards meeting Northern Ireland's international commitments to conserve important wildfowl populations and our wetlands.

"A sustainable harvest of waterfowl is perfectly acceptable. However, the loss of wild ducks and geese due to lead poisoning is not, particularly when some species are under increasing pressure from other factors.

"I would like to thank the shooting associations for the positive cooperation they have given my Department in formulating these restrictions," she said, noting that she has "every confidence that the changes will go along way to sustaining our future wildfowl populations and with that in mind I appeal for all shooters to comply".

From next week, anyone shooting with lead shot on or over wetlands on or after September 1, could be convicted, earning a fine of up to £1,000.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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