North American Non-Lead Partnership

A hunting and fishing heritage

Hunters and anglers often have the deepest and most respected voices within the chorus of support for wildlife in North America. They show pride in their heritage by protecting the delicate balance of predators, prey, and scavengers. 

When wildlife is under threat, hunters are among the first to notice and act. That's why we're alerting them to a safer choice of ammunition…


Hunters in the field with dogs

Chris Parish

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Hunters are heroes for scavenging animals, particularly in winter when a gut pile or carcass can prevent starvation. Unfortunately, the smallest trace of lead ammunition in that valuable food source causes unintended side effects.

Unlike monolithic solids such as all-copper bullets, lead bullets can scatter into microscopic fragments. Scientific evidence from numerous sources shows that lead-tainted meat is by far the primary source of lead poisoning in wildlife. An animal that eats lead can be sickened and can die slowly from failure of the central nervous system—certainly not the aim of an informed, ethical  shooter.

fragments of lead bullets next to intact copper bullets
our impact

Unlike lead ammunition (left), copper bullets (right) do not fragment as much on impact. 

Why hunt with non-lead?
A pair of condors at the opening of their nest cave

Alan Clampitt

our impact

To recover a wild California Condor population in the Grand Canyon region, we have collaborated with state wildlife managers since 2003 to incentivize lead reduction actions for hunters in northern Arizona and southern Utah. For nearly a decade, more than 80% of those deer hunters have taken voluntary actions to help prevent exposure.

logo depicting hunters, deer, and hawk
our impact

In summer of 2018 we co-founded the North American Non-Lead Partnership, a collaborative currently consisting of state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and sports/hunting groups aligned by a mission to preserve our wildlife conservation and hunting heritage through voluntary incentive-based outreach and education aimed at increasing the use of non-lead alternatives.  

Lead was routinely included in paint, fuel, and even food prior to medical discoveries in the last century. And as residents of Flint, Michigan, can attest, ending exposure to this preventable threat is a major undertaking with high stakes—protecting the health of our most vulnerable. Those vulnerable residents include raptors like eagles and vultures whenever remains of shot animals are left in the wild. Even the mighty California Condor, with its nine-foot wingspan, can die after eating lead from ammunition residues.

The North American Non-Lead Partnership is committed to working with hunters to end lead poisoning of wildlife by increasing the use of non-lead ammunition. The hunting community took steps in 1991 to manage the use of lead shot for waterfowl, with positive results for Bald Eagles and game animals alike. To expand on that protective effect, we’re asking shooters for a simple, voluntary fix: switch to non-lead ammunition for instances where meat or a gutpile might be left for wild animals to scavenge.

In addition to advocating for this voluntary switch, the partnership supports ongoing research about lead exposure pathways. Sound science is one of the pillars of American hunters’ conservation ethic, and the partnership’s roots are in long-established, well-respected scientific organizations.

The partnership does not seek to ban lead ammunition, firearms, or hunting. Its singular focus is safeguarding wildlife—an achievable goal with the help of hunters, America’s first conservationists.


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