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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

A comparison of fragmenting lead-based and lead-free bullets for aerial shooting of wild pigs

Hampton, Jordan O.; Eccles, Grant; Hunt, Rob; Bengsen, Andrew J.; Perry, Andrew L.; Parker, Steve; Miller, Corissa J.; Joslyn, Steve K.; Stokke, Sigbjorn; Arnemo, Jon M.; Hart, Quentin

Abstract

In response to the health threats posed by toxic lead to humans, scavenging wildlife and the environment, there is currently a focus on transitioning from lead-based to lead-free bullets for shooting of wild animals. We compared efficiency metrics and terminal ballistic performance for lead-based and lead-free (non-lead) bullets for aerial shooting of wild pigs (Sus scrofa) in eastern Australia. Ballistic testing revealed that lead-based and lead-free bullets achieved similar performance in precision and muzzle kinetic energy (E-0) levels (3337.2 J and 3345.7 J, respectively). An aerial shooting trial was conducted with wild pigs shot with one type of lead-based and one type of lead-free bullets under identical conditions. Observations were made from 859 shooting events (n = 430 and 429 respectively), with a sub-set of pigs examined via gross post-mortem (n = 100 and 108 respectively), and a further sub-set examined via radiography (n = 94 and 101 respectively). The mean number of bullets fired per pig killed did not differ greatly between lead-based and lead-free bullets respectively (4.09 vs 3.91), nor did the mean number of bullet wound tracts in each animal via post-mortem inspection (3.29 vs 2.98). However, radiography revealed a higher average number of fragments per animal (median >300 vs median = 55) and a broader distribution of fragments with lead-based bullets. Our results suggest that lead-based and lead-free bullets are similarly effective for aerial shooting of wild pigs, but that the bullet types behave differently, with lead-based bullets displaying a higher degree of fragmentation. These results suggest that aerial shooting may be a particularly important contributor to scavenging wildlife being exposed to lead and that investigation of lead-free bullets for this use should continue.

Published in

PLoS ONE
2021, volume: 16, number: 3, article number: e0247785
Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE

Authors' information

Hampton, Jordan O.
University of Melbourne
Eccles, Grant
New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service
Hunt, Rob
New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service
Bengsen, Andrew J.
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Perry, Andrew L.
University of Melbourne
Parker, Steve
New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service
Miller, Corissa J.
University of Melbourne
Joslyn, Steve K.
VetDB
Stokke, Sigbjorn
Norwegian Institute Nature Research
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Hart, Quentin
NSW Department of Primary Industries

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Wildlife Management

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0247785

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/111494