This week, members of the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee held a public hearing on L.D. 1015, proposed legislation to end the use of ammunition containing lead in hunting our wildlife.

Lead is a known toxin, and has already been removed from pipes, various paints and gasoline and a host of other items to protect human health and the environment. Lead-based ammunition is the single largest source of lead knowingly discharged into our environment, environmental health researchers agree.

In Maine, our wildlife and waterways are at risk. Ingestion of lead fragments from spent ammunition poisons and causes the suffering of countless wildlife species, who ingest spent lead shot by foraging the ground and feeding on lead-tainted remains of animals left behind in the woods.

Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death for bald eagles. According to Avian Haven, approximately 25 eagles are poisoned and die by ingesting lead fragments each year in Maine. The toxicological effects on eagles are well established, including weakness, blindness, paralysis of the lungs and intestinal tract, organ failures, seizures and death. This represents inhumane levels of suffering and death for our revered bald eagle population.

Effective alternatives to lead ammunition are available. The availability, performance and affordability of non-lead ammunition have never been greater, with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approving over a dozen nontoxic shot types for hunting waterfowl since 1991, when it was banned in hunting them.

Thirty years later, it’s time to get the lead out of Maine wildlife!

Gina Garey

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