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The Conservation Evidence Journal is a separate publication within the Conservation Evidence project. Conservation Evidence is a free, authoritative information resource designed to support decisions about how to maintain and restore global biodiversity. You can search for summarised evidence from the scientific literature about the effects of actions for species groups and habitats using our online database.
Effect of a joint policy statement by nine UK shooting and rural organisations on the use of lead shotgun ammunition for hunting common pheasants Phasianus colchicus in Britain
Green R.E., Taggart M.A., Pain D.J., Clark N.A., Clewley L., Cromie R., Elliot B., Green R.M.W., Huntley B., Huntley J., Leslie R., Porter R., Robinson J.A., Smith K.W., Smith L., Spencer J. & Stroud D. (2021), 18, 1-9
There are significant negative effects of exposure to spent lead ammunition on wildlife and human health. A joint statement was issued by nine UK shooting and rural organisations on 24th February 2020 intended to encourage a voluntary transition to non-lead shotgun ammunition within five years “in consideration of wildlife, the environment and to ensure a market for the healthiest game products”. We dissected carcasses of wild-shot common pheasants Phasianus colchicus sold or offered for human consumption in Britain in the shooting season between 1st October 2020 and 1st February 2021 to recover shotgun pellets. The principal metallic element composing one pellet from each bird was identified using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. The results showed that 99% of the 180 pheasants from which shotgun pellets were recovered had been killed using lead shotgun ammunition, compared with 100% in a much smaller study conducted in the 2008/2009 shooting season. We conclude that the shooting and rural organisations’ joint statement, and their subsequent promotional actions, have not yet had a detectable effect on the ammunition types used by shooters supplying pheasants to the British game market.
Effect of height and colour of bee bricks on nesting occupancy of bees and wasps in SW England
Shaw R.F., Christman K.P., Crookes R., Gilbert C.N. & Osborne J.L. (2021), 18, 10-17
Bee bricks are a novel solitary-bee nesting habitat made from reclaimed concrete, designed to be built into walls to provide nest sites in urban areas. We tested if cavity-nesting bees and wasps used bee bricks, and if they showed any preference for nesting in bricks of different colours or at different heights. We carried out surveys of solitary bees in 15 private urban gardens and eight rural public gardens, where the bee bricks were then placed for two years (2016-2017). Bee bricks were placed on structures that were either 1 m in height with 4 bricks (red, yellow, white and wooden control) or with three platforms where white bricks were placed at 0 m, 0.6 m or 1.0 m above the ground. The number of occupied nest holes was counted at the end of each summer. Nesting holes that were capped with mud were more common than those capped with chewed or cut leaves. The average % of holes capped with either mud or chewed leaf was greatest in red bricks and lowest in wooden controls. Only one brick out of 39 placed at ground level had capped holes, although the difference in the % of holes capped between heights was not statistically significant. Cavity-nesting bees and wasps use solitary-bee bricks for nests, but population level impacts are still untested.
Evidence of widespread illegal hunting of waterfowl in England despite partial regulation of the use of lead shotgun ammunition
Stroud D., Pain D.J. & Green R.E. (2021), 18, 18-24
Shooting of birds using lead shotgun ammunition was legal for all quarry species in the UK until 1st September 1999, when the Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 1999 and similar regulations in other UK countries came into effect. These regulations made it illegal to shoot ducks and geese and some other waterfowl species in England with lead shotgun ammunition and/or to use it in certain wetland habitats. The legislation was intended to reduce the incidence of lead poisoning of wetland birds caused by ingested and embedded shotgun pellets. We evaluate the effectiveness of this legislation by estimating the number of ducks shot in England with lead shot. We also assess the effectiveness of awareness-raising actions about the regulations, including an advocacy campaign intended to encourage compliance, and an undertaking by the UK Government to examine ways to improve compliance and enforcement. We estimate that about 13 million ducks have been shot illegally using lead shotgun ammunition in England since 1st September 1999 - an annual average of approximately 586,000 and representing approximately 70% of the total ducks shot. There was no detectable decline in the number of ducks killed using lead shotgun ammunition following the awareness-raising publicity and advocacy campaign by shooting and countryside management organisations. The government review of implementation and enforcement of the Regulations on the level of this wildlife crime was not followed by any new prosecutions. There has been one prosecution for an offence under the Lead Shot Regulations. We conclude that the 1999 Regulations and attempts to promote compliance with them have effected only a small reduction in the use of lead shotgun ammunition in wetlands in England.