Studies show that each year, around 1.5 million waterfowl fall victim to lead poisoning across Europe. Lead is a very toxic substance, affecting not only birds, wildlife and the environment, but also human health.
While hunting in wetlands, a part of the fired pellets fall to the ground or into the water. Waterbirds can pick the pellets from the bottom and ingest them, mistaking them for food items or grit. The acidic stomach fluids, combined with the grinding of the gizzard, cause the pellets to dissolve. This is how lead enters the blood stream, affecting thus several organs and systems within the bird organism, such as the liver, kidneys, nervous and circulatory systems, and causing a series of anomalies. Depending on the amount accumulated, it can also cause death.
On September 3, 2020, the EU agreed to the European Commission’s proposal to ban hunting with lead ammunition in wetlands. This decision came as a result of an extensive awareness campaign involving environmental organizations from all over Europe.
AOS is part of a similar initiative since 2018, within the frame of the Adriatic Flyway project – the fourth phase. This project is being implemented in all Balkan countries, located on the migratory route along the Adriatic Sea and aims to reduce the potential threats faced by migratory birds that follow this route during their migration.
Despite the fact that poisoning from the use of lead ammunition in wetland areas is an unknown aspect for our society and its consequences even more obscure, this phenomenon is still present in our country and the negative consequences are equally present in the populations of waterfowl, in the environment, and in human health. Therefore, it is necessary for the Albanian society to start becoming aware of this phenomenon and for state institutions to take into account this aspect when drafting laws for the protection of fauna, environment, and human health.
To learn more on the risks of lead ammunition, read the “Open Letter of the European Scientists-2018” in the link below.
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