Wetlands are special because they attract waterfowl, which are important to many of us: shooters, birdwatchers, the tourist industry and the general public. Many species of waterfowl are migratory and we have an international obligation to ensure their conservation while they are with us, mainly over the winter months. While a sustainable harvest of waterfowl is perfectly acceptable, the loss of duck, geese or swans to lead shot poisoning is not. This is avoidable, and a restriction on the use of lead shot on wetlands is a sensible course of action.
The Environmental Protection (restriction on use of lead shot) (Scotland) (No.2) regulations took effect on 31 st March 2005 and prohibit the use of lead shot for shooting with a shotgun on or over wetland areas in Scotland. The purpose of the regulations is to meet the international commitment under terms of the African-Eurasian Water Bird Agreement (AWEA) to protect water birds from the threat of lead poisoning, following similar processes undertaken in England and Wales .In practice, the new legislation formalises the shooting community's voluntary Code of Good Shooting Practice', endorsed by key shooting and countryside organisations, which for several years have called on all those who shoot to avoid depositing lead shot in wetland areas used by feeding waterfowl.
The Scottish Regulations pursue a habitat-based approach as opposed to the site and species-based approach in place in England and Wales .
In brief, it is now illegal to use lead shot for shooting over "wetlands" which are defined as "Areas of marsh, fen, peatland, water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres".
Shoot owners must recognise that under this definition shooting of species other than geese and ducks would be affected. For example shooting pheasants over a river or burn will require those shooting to use a lead shot alternative.
Further details can be found on our web site www.sportinglets.co.uk and a useful leaflet "Protecting waterfowl from lead in wetlands" as produced by the BASC is available from our sporting department in Perth.