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Wild Justice’s supermarket sweep shows fall in lead use

Research carried out by the campaign group suggests a rise in the use of non-toxic shot, as lead levels in game sold to the public decreases

More Guns have been shooting with steel voluntarily over the past season

The team at Wild Justice — Mark Avery, Chris Packham, and Ruth Tingay — have once again been on their annual meat-aisle supermarket sweep. The narrative is usually the same — the trio pop into a few retailers up and down the country to buy game, which is then sent off to be analysed for lead levels.

Some weeks later a blog is posted announcing that in spite of all the talk about the shooting community cutting back on its use of lead ammunition, levels in the meat are still worryingly high. This time they went to Harrods, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S and Lidl. However, the message this year has changed a bit. 

For the first time, there is evidence that lead levels in game being sold to the public are lower. The Wild Justice blog comments that it is too soon to whoop with joy and there is a long way to go. But it gives credit to Holme Farmed Venison, whose Eat Wild partridge breasts were “the first samples we have seen of game meat where all of the samples had below the legal level of lead for non-game meat”.

To put some numbers to the whole thing, the trio found that 55% of game tested this year was above the legal lead limit (for non-game meat), whereas in previous years it was 78%. 

Liam Bell, a headkeeper and former chairman of the NGO, told ST that they had lots of Guns last season who turned up using steel voluntarily. He himself used it on most of the days he shot and found it to be “very effective”, although he admitted it does take a bit of time to get confident with it. Interestingly, Mr Bell added that his local gamedealer has said they will only take deer carcasses shot with non-lead ammunition from August of this year.

According to the blog, 55% of game tested this year was above the legal lead limit for non-game meat, whereas in previous years it was 78%