Condor, © Scott Frier/USFWS

Official Phasing In of Getting Lead Out

CA adopts final rules for eliminating lead hunting ammunition to protect wildlife and health

The time has come and the lead is out! This week the California Fish & Game Commission adopted the final regulations that will begin the phase-in of implementation of AB711, California’s law requiring the use of non-lead ammunition for all taking of wildlife in the state. The phase-in will be complete by 2019, at which point California will officially be lead-free for hunting statewide.

In June 2013 the California State Assembly voted in favor of the bill that would require the use of non-lead ammunition throughout the state. In September 2013, the entire State Legislature voted to pass AB711. In October of that year, Governor Jerry Brown signed the historic legislation into law. As one of several organizations that advocated for the bill, it has been a long fight for us here at Defenders, and we couldn’t be more proud of the outcome.

Why are we so proud? This is a huge victory for the health, safety and long-term well-being of people, wildlife and our environment. Lead is toxic and we have known for decades that it can cause severe nervous system damage and even death. We have removed it from household products because of the effects of exposure to humans, including brain damage, learning problems and slowed growth.

Lead can and does have the same and sometimes even worse impacts on wildlife. In wildlife, lead poisoning causes an agonizing death through paralysis and starvation. Lead in the environment pollutes waterways and makes drinking water unsafe for people and wildlife. Lead ammunition is one of the main sources of this poison left in the environment.

Lead bullets often shatter into numerous small fragments inside targeted game animals, posing threats to human health when consumed in game meat and also to wildlife scavengers that consume gut piles of game animals that are left behind on the ground. Some animals also ingest lead when foraging in fields and pick up spent ammunition mistakenly.

In California, our endangered California condors have been most noticeably impacted by ingesting lead, along with other large birds of prey like golden eagles and myriad other species. Fortunately, now that our state leaders have recognized the dangers posed by lead ammunition and the availability of cost and performance-comparable alternatives to it, our endangered wildlife will have one less threat to their recovery.

We are so excited to see the phasing in of this landmark law in California, and we hope that other states across the country will follow California’s lead in getting the lead out.

California Condors

How much do you know about the largest bird in North America? Learn more about the California condor, how it became endangered, and what’s being done to help it recover.

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7 Responses to “Official Phasing In of Getting Lead Out”

  1. BJC

    Are you planning to advocate for this legislation in other states also?

  2. Anneke Swanepoel

    We need these birds very much as they get rid of dead animals. Who will prick up and clean our environment? Humans only destroy what ever is around them and do not want to do the cleaning up. These birds clean up where we cannot see or reach. Please protect them. In South Africa our witchdoctors are having them killed for their so called “powers that they have” and their good eyesight and nothing is being done to prevent this. Everyone is scared of bewitchment and will therefore not say who the culprits are.

  3. Justine

    Great news! Now, if we could just get the lead out of fishing tackle! Are there any efforts on that front? Lead poisoning from sinkers and other fishing tackle is toxic to loons and other wildlife. One lead sinker in a fish consumed by a loon can be fatal to the loon.

  4. Janet Norris

    The current ongoing attempt to obliterate our Nation’s honored, revered and well-loved wildlife, about which fables and truths were told. These wild animals should be revered and respected for their contribution in maintaining the natural balance of
    our ecology.
    The reality of what is being enforced/allowed to happen to these Wolves, Bison,
    Wild Mustangs, Wild Burrows & Donkeys, who were major influences in helping to settle this country of ours. They deserve our respect and help, instead of being
    hauled off to slaughter or confined in the BLM holding pens, without any shade,
    protection from the rain, wind and snow. This all needs immediate investigating and should be forced to treat these beautiful animals with the respect they so
    richly deserve.
    After all ~ Animal cruelty, negligence and abuse are NOW a Federal Offense!!!!!!
    Regardless of who breaks this law, they need to be punished to the fullest extent!!!
    PLEASE, please look to your heart, soul & conscience and do the right thing for these animals who need a voice.

  5. sybil sibley

    Our eco system is vtal to our planet and it’s the only home we have, so we need to take good care of it!!! Human need to be compassionate and caring toward the animals who share it
    With us!!!

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