A law banning lead ammunition for hunting was approved by the California Legislature last year. Hunters have for decades used lead ammunition, which will soon be of no use.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is required to promulgate regulations by July 1, 2015. The regulations must be fully implemented statewide no later than July 1, 2019, sooner if possible.
The law reads: “Non-lead ammunition … shall be required when taking all wildlife, including game mammals, game birds, nongame birds and nongame mammals, with any firearm.”
That includes rimfire and centerfire ammunition. That’s just about as broad as it gets.
Violation is an infraction punishable by a fine of $500, $1,000 to $5,000 for a subsequent offense.
One of the reasons for the new law quoted in the bill is: “Routes of human and wildlife exposure to lead include contaminated air, water, soil, and food. Lead ammunition in felled wildlife is often consumed by other animals and passed along the food chain. Dairy and beef cattle have developed lead poisoning after feeding in areas where spent lead ammunition has accumulated. Spent lead ammunition can also be mingled into crops, vegetation, and waterways.”
Current law prohibits the use of lead ammunition when taking big game or coyotes in certain parts of California known to be in the California Condor range.
That law remains in effect. California and federal law presently prohibit the use of lead ammunition to hunt wild waterfowl such as ducks and geese.
The new, no-lead law was primarily supported by Democrats in the State Capital. It was endorsed by the Audubon Society, Humane Society and Defenders of Wildlife.
As an apparent bad joke, the bill optimistically authorizes funding for the higher cost of non-lead ammunition “to the extent funding is available.” That means there will be no funding.
Studies have shown that lead poisoning has been the cause of death for some of California’s endangered Condors which often ingest lead shot or bullet fragments after feeding on carrion. Dead animals. Wildlife advocates claim lead ammunition is a threat to other birds like eagles, hawks, wild turkeys, quail and dove.
Non-lead ammunition alternatives include copper and tungsten which are generally two to three times more expensive than lead ammunition. It remains to be seen what California hunters will do with their stocks of lead ammunition. That could be a real problem.
As the July 1, 2019 (or earlier) deadline to stop using lead ammunition nears, we’ll be hearing more about this law.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.portersimon.com.