With hunters getting ready to hit Rappahannock’s fields and forests in pursuit of deer, I wanted to encourage everyone to consider replacing their lead bullets with copper ones. Getting the lead out of gasoline and paint are universally considered milestone achievements with clear, demonstrable benefits for human health and the environment. Yet we have so far been unable to realize the same result with ammunition despite the availability of safer and equally reliable alternatives.
Lead is a highly toxic material widely known to cause serious health issues in people, including damage to the brain and nervous and reproductive systems. In children, lead poisoning can result in behavioral problems, developmental delays, liver and kidney impairment and a host of other unwanted outcomes.
Lead can also be tremendously destructive to wildlife. In our region, bald eagles are highly vulnerable to lead fragments they ingest when feeding on deer carcasses. Last year at the farm (where we use only copper ammunition), we placed trail cameras near several gut piles and observed red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks, ravens, bobcats, bears and other species all feeding on deer remains.
Contrary to rhetoric from the National Rifle Association and others, this issue has nothing to do with restricting hunting. While copper bullets may cost a bit more, that seems a small price to pay for keeping Rappahannock’s environment lead-free.
The Farm at Sunnyside