Deer hunters evince little enthusiasm for copper ammunition

Deer hunters in the American mid-west have shown little enthusiasm for new non-toxic copper ammunition which would reduce the impact of lead bullet fragments on local fauna.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that local hunters have so far been indifferent to the new copper bullets which government agencies hoped would replace the use of toxic lead ammunition.

Lead is well-known to be a poisonous heavy metal, and fragments of ammunition left in the flesh of deer killed by hunters can have a toxic effect on both human beings consuming venison as well as eagles feeding on the remains of uncollected kills.

According to Mark Johnson, executive of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, hunters do not consider lead in venison to be a toxicity problem "primarily because it hasn't affected them," even though "99 or 100 percent hunters would say it can (affect eagles)."

Despite the acknowledgement that lead bullets left in deer kills can affect wild raptors, Johnson maintains use of the toxic heavy metal in ammunition does not pose an environmental problem because "we have the largest eagle population in recorded history."

Another factor weighing heavily on the decision by most hunters to continue using traditional lead bullets is the exorbitant cost of copper ammunition. Scott VanValkenburg of Fisherman's Corner in Pike Lake says the expensiveness of new bullets is a major deterrant for hunters, as copper loads cost around two times the price of comparable lead cartridges.