Perspective of a Veterinary Pathologist on Lead Shot
By Dr Michael Hindmarsh, Member of The LEAD Group Committee, retired Veterinary Pathologist
[Editor’s note: Dr Michael Hindmarsh was from Condobolin when he first contacted us about mine dust and cattle deaths in March 1996. His first veterinary lab was at Glenfield. Michael next contacted The LEAD Group 20 years later! Here’s what he reported by phone and email in June 2016.]
2016 Volcano Art Prize Entry by Dr Michael Hindmarsh. http://volcanoartprize.com/portfolio-item/aurukun-shooter-with-spoonbills-barramundi-mixed-tucker-bag/ Title: Aurukun shooter with spoonbills & barramundi mixed tucker bag. Notice: Mr James Kalkyorta (pictured here) is deceased. Lead-safety Message: Australian hunters take care not to eat lead shot in your tucker!
I worked as a cattle ranger pilot at Aurukun in the 1960s and saw an old lead acid battery that the cattle were eating. I don't know why they were attracted to it. I've seen batteries on cattle farms in Victoria too. Its very simple to identify a leaded area because all the cattle mill around it - just like they are attracted to blood. That's how you attract wild cattle and infuse them with domesticated cattle. They make a churned up area full of hoofs and you can check it out later = look for the lead source or other thing that attracted them.
When they have a Cobalt Vit B12 deficiency they will lick bark and the treatment is to use a salt lick and add the appropriate minerals. Salt (sodium chloride) is the carrier for cobalt across the rumen wall so I use epsom salts mixed in.
A friend at the North Parks Mine lost 300 head of cattle to lead poisoning and I said on the Helen Wellings show that the lead was coming from the sky. I was the Vet there in Condobolin and I lost thousands of dollars of work out of that. The govt vet put my article about the 7 metals I found in their hides on Wikipedia.
After reporting on lead toxicities in Stock & Birds we published our Ground breaking Bool lagoon= Lead incrimination Swamp article. [Ref: Lead Poisoning in Magpie Geese Anseranas semipalmata from Ingested Lead Pellet at Bool Lagoon Game Reserve (South Australia), by Michael Harper & Michael Hindmarsh, Aust. Wildl. Res., 1990, 17, 141-5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248883097_Lead-Poisoning_in_Magpie_Geese_Anseranas-Semipalmata_From_Ingested_Lead_Pellet_at_Bool-Lagoon-Game-Reserve_South-Australia ]
The next paper by Dr Lindsay Best quantified the lead shot per hectare in the sediments. (Ref: An overview of lead poisoning in Australian waterfowl and implications for management. By Sharley, A.J.; Best, L.W.; Lane, J.; Whitehead, P.. IWRB Special Publication Pages:73-77 Supplement:No. 16. Published:1992.)
It is shocking how my finding of the lead shot tinkling upon my post mortem room table could lead to Steel Shot being introduced into Australia’s wetlands due to the work of Michael Harper under his Churchill Fellowship!!! He was working for South Australia's National Parks Dept at Berri.
But now the stupidity is still allowing Lead Shot after 26 years to be used across Australia!
The stunning fact in the Best et al paper was the finding of only one (1) agate-like rock in transits across Bool Lagoon!!!! Therefore birds are forever searching/assessing for total grinding material and their exit gizzard valve is regulating the total grit content - releasing excess when required!!!!
Therefore birds could be visiting firing ranges for a topup!!!! = a hidden Avian Mortality!
A USA paper explained how dead birds in the environment are quickly predated away. My luck was that the Bool Lagoon geese were pinioned = unable to fly, and grandparent birds lived within a fox proof compound!!! Hence I received the first dead from Lead Carcases!!