Hunting of roe deer and wild boar in Germany: Is non-lead ammunition suitable for hunting?

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Background: Non-lead hunting ammunition is an alternative to bullets that contain lead. The use of lead ammunition can result in severe contamination of game meat, thus posing a health risk to consumers. With any kind of ammunition for hunting, the terminal effectiveness of bullets is an animal welfare issue. Doubts about the effectiveness of non-lead bullets for a humane kill of game animals in hunting have been discussed. The length of the escape distance after the shot has been used previously as an indicator for bullet performance. Objective: The object of this study was to determine how the bullet material (lead or non-lead) influences the observed escape distances. Methods: 1,234 records of the shooting of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and 825 records of the shooting of wild boar (Sus scrofa) were evaluated. As the bullet material cannot be regarded as the sole cause of variability of escape distances, interactions of other potential influencing variables like shot placement, shooting distance, were analyzed using conditional regression trees and two-part hurdle models. Results: The length of the escape distance is not influenced by the use of lead or non-lead ammunition with either roe deer or wild boar. With roe deer, the length of the escape distance is influenced significantly by the shot placement and the type of hunting. Increasing shooting distances increased the length of the escape distance. With wild boar, shot placement and the age of the animals were found to be a significant influencing factor on the length of the escape distance. Conclusions: The length of the escape distance can be used as an indicator for adequate bullet effectiveness for humane killings of game animals in hunting.Non-lead bullets already exist which have an equally reliable killing effect as lead bullets.

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Journal Article

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