The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today gave permanent approval to shot
formulated of tungsten, nickel, and iron for hunting waterfowl and coots,
after toxicology tests showed no harm to birds that ingested the shot. In
December, the Service also extended temporary approval of tin shot for the
current waterfowl season.
The Service assessed possible effects of the tungsten-nickel-iron (TNI)
shot, and determined that it is not a significant threat to wildlife.
Hunters can use the new shot, marketed under the brand name HEVI-SHOT and
manufactured by ENVIRON-Metal, Inc., of Albany, Oregon, for the balance of
the current season and for all future seasons.
The International Tin Research Institute, based in Oxbridge, England, first
applied for temporary approval for tin shot in 1998, and was given an
extension of that approval in 1999. Preliminary tests showed no adverse
health or reproductive effects on waterfowl exposed to tin shot.
"With these latest approvals, hunters have a choice of seven nontoxic shot
types for waterfowl hunting during the current season. The Service remains
committed to expanding hunter options, while also ensuring that approved
shot types are safe for waterfowl populations," said Service Director Jamie
TNI shot joins steel, bismuth-tin, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, and
tungsten-matrix shot as permanently approved nontoxic shot types. Permanent
approval of tin shot will not be given until the shot^s manufacturer
completes additional testing requirements.
Compliance with the use of nontoxic shot has been widespread since lead
shot was banned for waterfowl hunting nationwide in 1991. The Service
believes that compliance will continue to increase with the approval and
availability of other nontoxic shot types.
"As new research shows, the ban on lead shot has been a tremendous boon for
North American waterfowl. Hunters should know that by using nontoxic shot,
they are helping to preserve our hunting heritage for future generations,"
said Clark, referring to a recent study that examined lead shot poisoning
The study, "Ingestion of Lead and Nontoxic Shotgun Pellets by Ducks in the
Mississippi Flyway," was published last summer in the Journal of Wildlife
Management. Researchers found that the ban on lead shot reduced lead
poisoning deaths of Mississippi Flyway mallards by 64 percent, while
overall ingestion of toxic pellets declined by 78 percent over previous
The report concluded that by significantly reducing lead shot ingestion in
waterfowl, the ban prevented the lead poisoning deaths of approximately 1.4
million ducks in the 1997 fall flight of 90 million ducks. In addition, the
researchers state that approximately 462,000 to 615,000 acres of breeding
habitat would have been required to produce the same number of birds that
potentially were saved by nontoxic shot regulations that year.
Ducks regularly grub for food on the bottoms of lakes, streams and wetland
habitat, and also ingest gravel that is used in the gizzard to help grind
up food for digestion. They are therefore vulnerable to ingesting spent
lead pellets that settle on the bottom of waterways and wetlands. Ingestion
of as little as one lead pellet may be enough to cause fatal lead poisoning
in most ducks.