Watch: How much do lead bullets fragment?

Chris Parrish compares the fragmentation of lead versus non-lead ammunition. Credit: Arizona Game and Fish Department

How do lead bullets compare with non-lead bullets, and what does that mean for wildlife?

Lead fragments in gut piles left by hunters can be deadly to scavengers. For the endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), lead poisoning is the greatest cause of mortality.

In a video on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s YouTube channel, Chris Parrish, with the Peregrine Fund and the North American Non-Lead Partnership, and Allen Zufelt, the AGFD’s California Condor Program coordinator, built a contraption to demonstrate how much lead bullets fragment after they’ve hit their targets and the risk that can pose to scavengers if those fragments are left behind.

“If it’s a lead-based bullet, there’s the potential for fragmentation and the potential for exposure to wildlife,” Parrish says. “That’s why we are reaching out to our fellow hunters, sharing this information and asking them to consider voluntarily switching to a non-lead bullet when you are going to target wildlife whose remains are left in the field available to scavenging wildlife.”

Watch the video below.