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Follow Up on Plastic Shotgun Shell Wads

My E-FORUM, Shoreline Cleanup and Skeets, September 19, 2009, got a lot of attention.

Because of the proximity of the Richmond Rod and Gun, several of us jumped to the conclusion that their trap and skeet range was the source of millions of plastic shotgun shell wads along the shoreline.

John Talbot, President of the Richmond Rod and gun Club set me straight. Currently, the club only allows biodegradable wads. He believes that the plastic wads are from years of duck hunting in the area. Of course, they could also be from a time before the club converted to biodegradable wads.

Talbot told me that shotgun shooters can bring their own shells or buy them at the club. In any event, the Range Officer checks for both steel shot & photo degradable / biodegradable wads. They have used Poly-Wad, Inc. Greenlight shotshell and their current supplier Kent (http://www.kentgamebore.com/velocity.asp), has just come out with a biodegradable wad, which will be tested as soon as they are available.

I congratulate Richmond Rod and Gun Club for their responsible operation. If anyone has additional questions, contact John A. Talbot, President, RICHMOND ROD & GUN CLUB, INC., 3155 Goodrick Ave., Richmond, CA  94801,  (510) 237-6344 Work, E-mail: johntalbot@jandotire.com

Perhaps Richmond Rod and Gun Club members would like to join us at next yearís coastline cleanup to try and rid the shoreline of this legacy of plastic pollution.

I also received an email from Anthony R. DeCicco of the Audubon Society. He writes:


Thank you for writing your recent article concerning plastic shotgun wads along the Richmond Shoreline. Doria Robinson forwarded the article to me knowing that I too have been deeply concerned about the number of plastic wads along the shoreline.


As an environmental educator, I have lead many shoreline clean-ups over the years with children and their families and have found countless plastic wads around the bay and along the Pacific Coast. Last November during our year-long Eco-Richmond Program, we brought two 4th grade classes from Bayview Elementary (along the Richmond/San Pablo border) to the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. The children collected over 400 shells. They were confused and appalled, considering all that they had learned about the effects of marine debris. They had even seen photographs attached that show plastic wads inside the stomachs of dead Albatross chicks found in the mid-Pacific:




They and their teachers wanted to take action by writing letters but we werenít quite certain of the proper recipient. We spoke with John Hitchen, Park Supervisor for Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. He informed us the plastic wads were mostly the result of the opening of duck hunting season. We had heard from others as well that such plastic wads were not necessarily the result of activities at the Richmond Rod and Gun Club, however, we were tempted to go there ourselves and ask them directly. Subsequently, the children wrote Department of Fish and Game, urging them to mandate the use of biodegradable wads. The state has issued similar mandates, restricting the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl. The children received no reply.


NBC Bay Area did capture childrenísí efforts and featured a segment last January. Please click on the link to our website and scroll down to the news clip. Iím sure youíll find it heartwarming.




Also, we plan to use the plastic wads that the children, as well as others, found to create sculptures at the upcoming North Richmond Shoreline Festival.


Please let us know how we can be of any assistance during your efforts to restrict the use of plastic shotgun wads along the shoreline. Are the majority of plastic wads along the shoreline indeed, generated by the Richmond Rod and Gun Club? (On a recent outing with Whitney Dotson, we noticed that the volume of wads increased with closer proximity to the club--coincidence?) If the Richmond Rod and Gun Club is the major source, perhaps we could have this yearís students write letters to the club.


Any suggestions for taking action would be much appreciated.


By the way, here is another website for bio-wad manufacturers:




Thanks so much,




Anthony R. DeCicco

Environmental Education Programs Manager

Golden Gate Audubon Society

office: 510.843. 2222

cell:    510.508.1388





I am going to work on both local and state legislation that would require biodegradable shotgun wads at any location where plastic wads could get into public waters or into the food chain. There seems to be no reason why not to do this.


If you get the idea that I am an anti-hunting nut, forget it. I grew up hunting quail and ducks in Arkansas. Itís a great sport, and hunters pay for a large part of the wildlife conservation in the United States. Once I went hunting with the famous rocket scientist, Werner Van Braun, in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Remind me to tell you that story and others of equal interest sometime.


I donít hunt or shoot much anymore, but I respect people who do. I used to teach basic combat training and run rifle ranges, and Iím a crack shot with just about any firearm, but you probably wonít see me in action anytime soon.