In 2020, nine major UK shooting and rural organisations proposed a voluntary transition from the use for hunting of lead shotgun ammunition to non-lead alternatives. The major food retailer Waitrose & Partners has announced its intention to move to not supplying game meat products from animals killed using any kind of lead ammunition and the National Game Dealers Association announced a plan for a similar policy to be implemented in 2022. The SHOT-SWITCH research project, which is intended to monitor the progress of these voluntary initiatives, began in the 2020/2021 shooting season.
The project monitors changes in the proportions of wild-shot common pheasants Phasianus colchicus available to consumers in Great Britain that had been killed using lead and non-lead shotgun ammunition, as assessed by using
inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry to identify the composition of shotgun pellets recovered from carcasses. In 2020/2021, 99.4% of the pheasants sampled had been killed using lead ammunition. We report here further results from this study for the 2021/2022 season. We found that 99.5% of the 215 pheasants from which shotgun pellets were recovered had been killed using lead ammunition. We conclude that the shooting and rural organisations’ joint statement and two years of their considerable efforts in education, awareness-raising and promotion, have not yet had a detectable effect on the ammunition types used by hunters who supply pheasants to the British game meat market.