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New York


Working Together to Protect Wildlife and People

The use of lead ammunition for hunting is a complex issue. We know that lead bullet fragments in hunter-killed game can harm wildlife that feed on carcasses and gut piles and may be present in processed game meat consumed by people. We also know that hunters have questions and concerns about non-lead alternatives. While many express interest in learning more about the issue and may be willing to try non-lead options, concerns about ballistic performance, cost, and availability of non-lead ammunition are often expressed. Many hunters also worry about the potential for restrictions on how they hunt and their ability to make informed choices about what ammunition to use.

There is no “quick fix” to complex issues like this. Lead based ammunition has been used in hunting for generations, but more recently, reducing the risks lead bullet fragments can have on wildlife and people has gained attention. Coming up with effective solutions to reduce exposure to lead requires a deep understanding of the needs, interests, and concerns of all involved – hunters, conservationists, ammunition manufacturers and retailers, and wildlife managers, to name just a few.

To address this challenge, DEC convened a working group that includes representatives from DEC, the New York State Department of Health, Cornell University’s Wildlife Health Program, and organized hunting and conservation groups. Their goal is to understand all the facets of this issue including potential impacts to wildlife and human health, the economics of ammunition supply and demand, the pros and cons of existing programs, and the attitudes and values and hunters and other constituents. This “fact finding” aspect is a critically important step that is necessary before effective solutions can be identified. Ultimately, the working group will make recommendations on ways to minimize the risks associated with lead hunting ammunition and increase acceptance and use of non-lead alternatives. Having a diverse group of partners working together on this issue will lead to actions that benefit the greatest number of people, our wildlife, and the environment for the long-term. For more information:

Photo by National Parks Service

.270 caliber fragmented lead bullet (left) vs. intact non-lead bullet (right)