The use of firearms is by far the most common permitted method of bird hunting - and generally the only one. The weapon of choice is a shotgun, which has a wide dispersion of shots, making it possible to hit small birds even from an extended distance. The small size of the individual projectiles hardly injures the bird's body; death is often brought about through shock, that comes from the small and numerous injuries. Due to its ballistic properties, highly poisonous lead pellets are commonly used. The soft lead causes less wear and tear to the shotgun barrel than harder steel or zinc.
The use of shotguns is problematic for several reasons; the contamination of soils with lead and it is practically impossible to shoot precisely on target at a flying bird. The shooters simply fire in the direction in which they see the bird. With a little luck they hit the prey, however, the whole area is hailed in pellets. If they shoot towards a flock of birds, the majority are only injured. They will certainly die a slow and painful death.
When lead shot is fired over water, the small metal balls are picked up by dabbling ducks, geese or flamingos in search of food. They often accumulate in the digestive tract and gradually poison the birds. Water birds with lead shot in their bodies can also be a danger to predators such as White-tailed eagles.
Other weapons, such as this of small calibre or air rifles, are not permitted for legal bird hunting. However, they are often used by poachers who do not have a hunting licence and cannot buy a registered shotgun.
CABS is working for a total ban on the use of shotguns for hunting.