Nontoxic Shot Approval

723 FW 4
FWM Number
Originating Office
Division of Migratory Bird Management

4.1 Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the program in which candidate nontoxic shot-types are screened for approval by the Director, Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

4.2 Goals. The immediate goal of the candidate nontoxic shot screening procedures is to ensure that shot types utilized in the hunting of waterfowl do not cause toxic effects and/or death when ingested by migratory birds. The overall goal is to preclude the use of toxic substances in shot used by hunters to take waterfowl and coots, and to eliminate acute toxicity as a source of mortality in migratory birds. This procedure will help to ensure healthy, viable waterfowl and other migratory bird populations in perpetuity.

4.3 Scope. The procedures apply to any type of shot proposed for use in the United States (U.S.) to hunt members of the Family Anatidae (ducks, geese and swans) and coots (Fulica americana), all of which are protected by separate migratory bird treaties between the U.S. and Great Britain, Mexico, Japan and the former U.S.S.R.

4.4 Authority. Authority for establishment of regulatory programs to conserve migratory birds, such as the one on nontoxic shot approval procedures, is based on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-711) and the Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 712 et seq.).

4.5 General Strategy.

A. The Code of Federal Regulations, 50 CFR 20.21(j), specifically requires that no persons may take migratory game birds for which open seasons are prescribed while possessing shot (either in shotshells or as loose shot for muzzleloading) other than steel shot or such shot approved as nontoxic by the Director pursuant to procedures set forth in section 20.134. Section 20.21(j) further provides that the restriction applies only to waterfowl and coots. Section 20.134, Nontoxic Shot, lays out specific steps that the applicant submitting the candidate shot and the Service must take before final approval of non-toxicity status is granted or denied. Section 20.134 contains detailed provisions for: approval, application and review, and outline of procedures for testing. The latter section prescribes (a) an initial screening phase which will determine chemical composition and in vitro erosional characteristics and (b) an in vivo toxicity test phase that will measure short-term periodic exposure, chronic exposure under extreme environmental conditions, and chronic exposure impact on reproduction.

B. Current nontoxic shot approval procedures were developed in the mid-80s under then-current technologies, and there has been no test of the procedures because no candidate shot types have been fully processed as yet. Given these facts, and in the absence of specific information regarding future shot technologies, it is the policy of the Service to regard the procedures as being somewhat flexible with regard to the kinds or exhaustiveness of tests that may be required. That is, it may be possible on the basis of support information submitted by the applicant to forego certain portions of the procedures and/or to require additional ones. Other tests might be applicable in the case of unconventional materials, such as a ceramic-metal composite. This approach to an approval request for nontoxic shot procedures will likely necessitate a more comprehensive public review of and comment on the Service's intended actions.