A set of laws adopted in 2013 known as “AB 711” drastically expanded California’s ban on the use of lead ammunition for taking larger animals within the “California condor zone” to the taking of all animals throughout the entire state. It also required that the California Fish and Game Commission adopt regulations by July 1, 2015 that implement the expanded lead ammunition ban by July 1, 2019, or anytime sooner if “practicable.”
The NRA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association submitted a joint letter to the Commission urging that implementation of any regulation adopted now be postponed until the July 1, 2019 legislative deadline. The letter explains that the Commission does not have the authority to implement the regulations any earlier because to do so is not “practicable” due to the commercial unavailability of non-lead ammunition at this time and the lack of guidelines in place for how AB 711 will be enforced in the field.
At its April meeting the Commission nevertheless voted unanimously to adopt regulations that will be phased in incrementally through full implementation on July 1, 2019, but some of which take effect almost immediately. Hunters in California now need to be aware of when the phased implementation of the regulations will affect them.
Phase 1 will take effect as of July 1, 2015, and will require the use of alternative ammunition when taking any wildlife in State Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves and for taking Bighorn sheep anywhere in the state. Phase 2 will take effect July 1, 2016, and will require alternative ammunition for taking all upland game birds except for dove, quail, and snipe, with a shotgun and for shotgun hunting of small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals and birds, and any wildlife for depredation purposes. Hunting with traditional lead based shot, however, will continue to be allowed at licensed game bird clubs, as will hunting small game, furbearing, and nongame mammals and birds and wildlife for depredation purposes with traditional lead bullets (but not shot). Unless something changes, a total ban on the use of lead ammunition for the taking of any wildlife statewide will be the law in California on July 1, 2019.
Despite this setback, NRA and CRPA are not giving up on protecting their members who hunt in California from the lead ammunition ban. They will continue to monitor its implementation and enforcement to make sure hunters are treated fairly and according to the law.
The NRA and CRPA have been at the forefront of the fight to protect traditional ammunition in California for years and achieved important successes prior to the passage of AB 711. When so-called environmentalists began urging the Commission to expand the original ban to include additional species, such as rabbits and squirrels, NRA and CRPA began seeking records from all government agencies involved with condors. After collecting, reviewing, and providing analyses of tens of thousands of documents, NRA and CRPA had experts present evidence at the August 2009 Commission meeting not only showing that the ban already in place was not effective, but also debunking some of the key scientific papers used to justify lead ammunition bans in general. When they were done, one Commissioner who had appeared to support the lead ban beforehand called the main study supporters of the ban were relying on as “pseudo-science” and voted against expanding the ban.
Proponents of expanding the lead ban did not put all of their eggs in the Commission basket. They simultaneously filed a federal lawsuit in Arizona seeking to prohibit the use of lead ammunition for hunting in the Arizona Strip, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing it. NRA successfully intervened in the matter and was able to assist the government in defeating the lawsuit. And when another similar lawsuit was filed soon thereafter alleging the U.S. Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by adopting certain land management plans without adequately considering the alleged environmental impact of hunters’ use of lead-based ammunition, NRA teamed up with Safari Club International to intervene and again helped the government defend its policy of allowing lead ammunition for hunting.
The goal of the so-called environmentalists in bringing the Arizona lawsuits was likely to determine whether the courts would allow them to circumvent the drawn out regulatory and legislative processes. When that did not pan out for them, they returned to California with additional proposals for the Commission. And when they did so, the NRA and CRPA again made a presentation at the August 2012 Commission meeting, which prompted even the most avid lead ammunition ban supporters on the Commission to question the science of the lead ban proponents and to suggest the formation of a committee to determine whether lead ammunition was actually the real source of lead poisoning in condors and other wildlife. NRA representatives were to have seats on that committee.
Through the committee, the Department and the Commission were ready to investigate both sides of the lead ammunition debate, and to make an informed decision based on the facts and sound science, not the so-called environmentalists’ propaganda. But before the committee even started, the lead ammunition ban proponents circumvented the Commission’s committee process by convincing a legislator to introduce AB 711, where the science would not be scrutinized by people who have special knowledge on the subject.
So NRA and CRPA have been vigorously fighting to protect hunters from lead ammunition bans for years and will continue to do so.
If you need to speak to someone regarding AB 711 affecting you personally, please contact California Rifle & Pistol Association:
271 E. Imperial Highway; Suite 620
Fullerton, CA 92835
Tel: (800) 305-2772
If you have questions about how to comply with AB 711, please contact Department of Fish and Wildlife:
1416 9th Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Tel: (916) 445-0411
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