Effects of lead from ammunition on birds and other wildlife: A review and update.
Poisoning of wild birds following ingestion of lead from ammunition has long been recognised and considerable recent research has focused on terrestrial birds, including raptors and scavengers. This paper builds upon previous reviews and finds that both the number of taxa affected and geographical spread of cases has increased. Some lead may also be absorbed from embedded ammunition fragments in injured birds which risk sub-lethal and welfare effects. Some papers suggest inter-specific differences in sensitivity to lead, although it is difficult to disentangle these from other factors that influence effect severity. Sub-lethal effects have been found at lower blood lead concentrations than previously reported, suggesting that previous effect-level 'thresholds' should be abandoned or revised. Lead poisoning is estimated to kill a million wildfowl a year in Europe and cause sub-lethal poisoning in another ≥ 3 million. Modelling and correlative studies have supported the potential for population-level effects of lead poisoning in wildfowl, terrestrial birds, raptors and scavengers.