Europe and Central Asia
24 Nov 2020

Victory: Denmark announces complete ban on lead in hunting ammunition

©Yves Adams
By Anton Gundersen Lihn, BirdLife Denmark

It has finally happened: Denmark has announced a complete ban on lead in hunting ammunition. The Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark and the Danish Hunters’ Association made the announcement together. Following a transition period, the ban will be fully implemented in 2023.

With this decision, Denmark goes down in history as being the first country in the world to implement a national ban on lead in hunting ammunition. This is vitally important for nature in general, and birds in particular.

“Neither birds of prey, humans or any other animals should have their food spiced with heavy metals,” says Egon Østergaard, chairman of BirdLife Denmark.

“Lead poisoning is a health risk for the birds. We have put in a lot of work to persuade shifting governments to establish a complete lead ban, so of course we are pleased with a complete ban finally becoming reality.” BirdLife Denmark has reason to celebrate: they have been tirelessly campaigning to ban lead for years.

A bit of history: in 1996, Denmark was the first European country to completely ban lead shot for hunting. However, lead in rifle cartridges remained legal. But in 2019, the Danish Hunters’ Association backed BirdLife Denmark’s longstanding demand for a complete lead ban in hunting. And that was a gamechanger.

The Danish lead ban comes at a crucial point in time: the European Parliament is currently debating a ban on lead shot in Europe’s wetlands. A demand that is strongly supported by BirdLife Denmark.

“Hopefully the Danish ban can put pressure on the rest of the European Union’s Member States. The alternatives to lead shots are available and a ban on lead shots in the wetlands of Europe will make a huge difference for European birds”, says Egon Østergaard.

Even microscopic amounts of lead are poisonous to birds and other wild animals. Birds of prey are especially at risk as lead accumulates in the food chain.

Lead is poison for birds, biodiversity and people. Find out more about why the EU should #BanLead in our infographic on the matter.


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.