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Nation’s First Statewide Lead Ammunition Ban Finalized in California

California's contentious lead ammunition ban has been finalized by the State's Fish and Game Commission.

California Fish and Game Commission recently finalized the ban on lead ammunition which will start to go into effect July 1, 2015, with two phases following. Proponents of the lead ammunition ban claim that wildlife will benefit from lead-free ammunition used by hunters. Groups opposed to the ban state that the science is inconclusive regarding positive impacts on California's wildlife.

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The Vedanta Wildlife Society submitted comments to the Commission, stating that a lead ammunition ban "would alleviate serious harms to wildlife."  An environmental advocacy group, Defenders of Wildlife, petitioned the Commission, stating that "lead ammunition unnecessarily causes harm to people, wildlife and the environment."

The National Shooting Sports Foundation opposes the ban, saying it lacks science-based evidence. In their filings with the Commission, the group points out that Norway implemented a similar ban in 2005, then repealed their ban in 2015 because there was not enough evidence to support it.

Other groups opposed to the ban include the National Rifle Association, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and the Outdoors Sportsman's Coalition of California. Reasons for opposition from these groups include a lack of available non-lead ammunition. They also point out that the more costly non-lead ammunition will lead to a decrease in hunters statewide. This decrease could have a negative impact on managing wildlife populations. Fewer hunters would result in a less funding for wildlife management because of decreased license and tag sales.



The lead ammunition ban will be implemented across the Golden State in three steps. Phase 1 goes into effect July 1, 2015, and requires that non-lead ammunition be used when taking all wildlife on California's state-run Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves.

Phase 2 takes effect July 1, 2016. Non-lead ammunition will be mandated when taking upland game birds with a shotgun. Hunting with traditional lead ammunition will remain legal at licensed game bird clubs. Non-lead ammunition will be required statewide for shotgun hunting of small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds, and any wildlife for depredation purposes. Hunting with traditional lead centerfire and rimfire ammunition will be legal under Phase 2 for small game, furbearing, and nongame mammals, as well as nongame birds and wildlife for depredation purposes.

A total ban of all hunting with lead ammunition begins statewide in California on July 1, 2019.

California's lead ammunition ban was signed into law by Governor Brown in 2013. A repeal of the ban has been introduce to the California Legislature by CA Assemblyman James Gallagher.


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Nation’s First Statewide Lead Ammunition Ban Finalized in California