Thursday, March 07, 2013

Add lead-bullet poisoning denialism to the crank magnetism list

This one was new to me:

Fresh off a wave of success in the state Capitol last year, animal welfare groups are taking aim at a new target this year: hunting with lead ammunition.

The Humane Society, Audubon California and Defenders of Wildlife are behind a major push to make California the first state to ban lead ammunition for all types of hunting....

....environmentalists say a statewide ban is needed because overwhelming scientific evidence shows condors, bald eagles and other birds are still dying from lead poisoning when they eat dead deer and other animals shot by hunters.... 
"These people want to ban hunting. Go to their cocktail parties and snuggle up to them, and that's what they'll tell you," said Don Saba, a member of the NRA board of directors.... 
Saba, a Tuscon, Ariz., resident who has a doctorate in toxicology from UC Berkeley, appeared last August at a state Fish and Game Commission meeting to question the science linking condor poisoning to bullets.... 
Scientists say it's clear bullets are to blame for the lead poisoning. They have published studies that match isotope ratios of lead in condors' feathers to isotope ratios in lead bullets.

Saba says that lead paint and other substances, like lead from batteries, also can have the same ratios, and that condors may be eating paint from old fire lookout towers, eating lead in dumps or finding it other ways. But researchers dispute those claims.

"What is lacking is any evidence -- and certainly no published evidence -- to substantiate their claims," said Don Smith, a professor of microbiology and toxicology at UC Santa Cruz.

Biologists track the birds with GPS and observe them closely, Smith noted. "They are not going to lots of fire towers to eat paint. They are not eating wheel weights off wheels," he said. "There isn't one shred of evidence they have to support any of that."

Evidence that they don't like, doesn't exist. One more for crank magnetism.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, an industry lobbyist spreading doubt to postpone regulations. Tobacco style denial all over again.

Will the public and regulators detect this strategy earlier this time?

--cynicus

bill said...

Well I remember seeing small groups of dull-coated ruffle-feathered lead-poisoned black swans wobble overhead, their heads drooping listlessly below the level of their bodies on the end of their long necks...

This was Bool Lagoon, here in South Australia, around the time of the outright ban. Our hunting lobby, you may be astonished to learn, supports the ban and educates hunters about it.

Scientists had determined the masses of lead pellets on the bottom of the lagoon were having a catastrophic impact on waterbird populations, particularly, as with the swans, where they ended up in the birds' crops.

And now it turns out that all along the silly-old swans had been eating old batteries and the paint from shelter sheds! Either that or the buffoons from the NRA have been smoking stuff at cocktail parties...

Anonymous said...

Actually, I have a friend who has undertaken to mitigate lead contamination at a shooting range. In alkaline soils, the lead is much more likely to stay in place.

Lars Karlsson said...

Should armies use lead-free bullets?
About how the Swedish and Norwegian armies are switching to led-free bullets.

Lars Karlsson said...

Speaking about crank magnetism.

In Scientific American:


Teach the Controversy Comes to Climate Science.


The debate on whether evolution should be taught in America's classrooms is as old as the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Recently, a similar effort has come under fire by education leaders and legislators: how to teach global warming.

A flurry of bills that critics say would allow climate change denial to be taught in public schools have been moving through state legislatures throughout the United States, with some success.

The legislation is promoted and often directly supported by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit that promotes "intelligent design research" as part of its "Academic Freedom" campaign. The organization aims to prod educators to "teach the controversy" on a number of contentious issues, including climate change.
...

EliRabett said...

Almost all bullets to day are jacketed with copper or similar. The Hague convention requires military bullets to be the same, and increasingly bullets used at shoot ranges are completely covered.

The major issue wrt hunting is shot. used for hunting mostly birds. Steel gives a tighter pattern than lead. There are issues with killing efficiency for hunters, and some older shotguns have problems with steel shot.

Some states (most?) now ban lead. The position of hunters is interesting. Most want there to be enough game to hunt, so they accept the steel shot regulations. Remember that the East Coast Flyway was restored by duck stamps (e.g. stamps hunters bought to allow them to hunt ducks) a program that the hunters eagerly supported.

dhogaza said...

Eli is showing his age ... :)

The arguments against steel shot had some merit, i.e. spread pattern, lighter shot, worse kill-to-wound ratio, greater wear on shotgun barrels, etc.

But then came tungsten shot ...

http://www.tungsten-spheres.com/tungsten_shot.html

Oregon bans lead shot and has for a long time. I don't have a state-by-state tally but it's a pretty common position, at least.

Gator said...

CA already has laws about this.
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor/

And many outdoor ranges in the San Jose area (all I know about personally) do not allow lead shot.

Why is there controversy about this?

EliRabett said...

For religious and tribal reasons Eli does not hunt, therefore he is not completely up to date on such matters, however the "controversy" appears to be a Dick Cheney thing such as it is.

Russell Seitz said...

Steel shot can catatophically erode a gun's polished choke- shotguns are low angle optical devices, rather like x-ray telescopes, that actually focus the shot pattern.

Tungsten though denser than lead is even more abrasive than steel, but an excellent , if expensive, non toxic compromise between density and softness exists in bismuth.

EliRabett said...

As a bonus, bismuth is both a topological insulator and a cure for diarrhea

Anonymous said...

"The Hague convention requires military bullets to be the same,"

Nope, if the military personnel aimed at is even minimally protected by an armour or something that could be considered to be an armour, anything goes, this even by the Convention itself.

-an anonymous Finn


Russell Seitz said...

The Hague Convention should be amended to ban the use of ballistic electrons against civilian population , and limit Puckel gun manufacture to rhombic barrels to discourage wars of religion.

dhogaza said...

The Hague Convention requirement for jacketed bullets was put in place because they don't mushroom and therefore are more survivable, tending to create cleaner wounds. The cynical would point out that causing a higher percentage of sufficiently wounded soldiers causes more supply train headaches than efficiently killing them. Unless you're Stalin ...

Of course, modern small caliber rounds for the M-16 etc are carefully designed to tumble when they hit flesh, causing damage not all that different than the lead bullets the Hague Convention banned.

Eli - I don't hunt either, but was actively involved on the board of a large conservation NGO in Oregon when the steel-shot ban was being argued.

cRR Kampen said...

"Almost all bullets today are jacketed with copper or similar." (Eli) - true, but never entirely covered (or the bullet will bust its mantle in the barrel) and the jacket often gets damaged or separated on impact particularly rifle munitions.
But lead shot is much worse indeed.

/cRR


Brian said...

FWIW, I'm looking for enviro/hunter alliances whenever possible. I'll have a policy role on an endangered species habitat plan protecting about 500,000 acres in our county, and I think pig hunting and possibly turkey hunting could help preserve habitat for native species.

Russell Seitz said...

Since the tremorous geology of their state spouts mercury at a greater rate than human endeavor, perhaps Californian cranks should amalgamate into a Neo-Neolithic party aimed at returning Gaia to an age untroubled by toxic metals like bronze and iron.