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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A new Missouri state rule aimed at protecting wildlife from lead poisoning means hunters will no longer be allowed to use lead shot in additional conservation areas across the state.

Unlike bullets, shotgun shells are filled with small pellets that are often made of lead. St. Louis Public Radio reported the Missouri Department of Conservation added 16 conservation areas where hunters must use nontoxic shot, bringing the total number to 37. The new regulations went into effect in March.

The goal is to protect birds like ducks and geese that may mistake pellets for small stones, which they eat to help grind their food. Lead exposure can be fatal for some birds.

Eagles and other bird species may also scavenge animal remains and accidentally ingest lead shot.

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