Fragmenting is when pieces of lead break away from the main piece. It can occur even if the main part of the bullet passes straight through the animal.
- When a lead-based bullet hits an animal, it changes shape from being pointed to a mushroom-like shape.
- While that bullet mushrooms, small bits of lead come away from the main piece. These small bits stay in the gut pile.
- Hunters will field dress their shot animal, remove the guts, and leave them behind.
- When a scavenger eats the guts that are left behind, they are also eating the lead fragments. As those are digested, the lead is taken into the bloodstream and causes lead poisoning.