Hunters welcome Norwegian politicians' decision to repeal the country's lead shot ban outside of wetland areas

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The Norwegian parliament today (3 February) resolved by 79 votes to 16 to reintroduce lead shot for live quarry hunting outside wetlands. The decision follows a lengthy campaign by BASC’s sister organisation in Norway the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers – the Jegernes Interesseorganisasjon (JI).

BASC chairman Alan Jarrett welcomed the move by the Norwegian parliamentary committee responsible, saying: “BASC firmly believes that all legislative decisions on ammunition should be based on sound science and this underpins our policy on lead ammunition of “no sound evidence, no change.”

In a statement issued on 29 January last week jointly with Norway’s Weapons Council (Våpenrådet), the JI had said that the country’s four main political parties were supportive of the move to bring back lead shot for hunting in spite of “massive pressure from a smaller group of researchers and veterinarians against lead ammunition”. “The fact that these parties have not been affected by excessive argumentation on the basis of campaign based research commands respect,” the statement said.

Banned in 2005

The JI has been campaigning to bring back lead – which it sees as “the most suitable material in hunting ammunition” – since the Norwegian government brought in a lead shot ban in 2005. The organisation criticised the ban on the grounds that it lacked a solid evidential basis and that the use of alternative ammunition posed animal welfare risks. Non-lead ammunition does not kill as cleanly or as efficiently as lead, and therefore causes unnecessary suffering to quarry, the JI has argued. It also maintains that the potential adverse effects of such substitute materials on health and the environment have not been studied in sufficient detail.

This is not the first time that proposals to repeal the lead shot ban have come before Norway’s politicians and in 2013, a move to bring lead back was defeated when a parliamentary majority voted against it.

Political support

However, last year, the tide appeared to be turning again, and the JI received statements of support for partial repeal from Norway’s Conservative Party, Progress Party, Christian Democratic Party, Center Party and the Social Democratic Party, which it believes should give the proposals a clear majority in a parliamentary vote.

In spite of their optimism over the latest vote, the JI remains conscious that the lead shot issue is still a live one. It said: “The case is probably not over even though parliament now chooses to lift the ban. The pressures from those who want to ban all lead based ammunition are most likely maintained and they will probably try to find new ways to succeed. They already have their focus towards a ban for lead based rifle bullets. We as dedicated hunters, shooters and professionals must keep up the commitment that our victory is to be a permanent one.”

Adrian Blackmore, director of the Countryside Alliance’s shooting campaign, welcomed the news: “The conclusion now reached by the Norwegians that there is insufficient evidence to justify the continued ban of lead shot outside of wetlands and clay shooting grounds clearly shows that one should only act on firm scientific evidence when considering restrictions to types of ammunition. We should also not be told to use alternatives when the full impact of those to the environment and human health remain unknown.”