California Gov. Jerry Brown signs historic legislation requiring the use of non-lead hunting ammunition

October 11th, 2013 · by Garrison Frost


Today Gov. Jerry Brown signed historic legislation into law that will require hunters to use non-lead ammunition, to be phased in by 2019. The bill, authored by Assemblymembers Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, and Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, will eliminate what nationally-renowned scientists say is the number one source of unregulated lead left in our environment.

“We are thrilled that Governor Brown has made AB711 the law of the land,” said Rendon. “There is simply no reason to continue using lead ammunition in hunting when it poses a significant risk to human health and the environment.”

Eliminating lead ammunition has been a priority for national agencies, and California is now the country’s leader in eradicating an unnecessary source of this lethal toxin.

“Lead ammunition leaves toxins in the environment that are hazardous to human health,” said Dr. Pan, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “I want to thank Governor Brown for making this public health concern a priority, and taking an important step toward eradicating a dangerous neurotoxin from our environment.”

In addition to posing a danger to human health, lead ammunition still threatens the California Condor, Golden Eagle and other protected species. One in five wild condors has ingested such significant levels of lead from these sources that they are at risk of dying from lead poisoning. In addition, more than 130 other wildlife species are at risk of poisoning by spent lead ammunition left behind by hunters.

 “Governor Brown has made history today in taking a critical step toward protecting endangered species like the California Condor and Golden Eagle,” said Dan Taylor, Audubon California’s director of public policy. “This groundbreaking law implements common-sense changes to help eliminate a toxin in our environment that is detrimental to all of us.”

 “California has led the nation in creating humane laws, and today’s action by Governor Brown to eliminate lead from hunting ammunition is an incredible victory for wildlife and humans alike,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “This common-sense law should serve as an example for the rest of the nation on the urgent need to stop releasing this dangerous toxin into the environment.”

“Lead doesn’t belong in ammunition for hunting, just as it didn’t belong in gas, pipes or pencils. We hope that the federal government and the rest of the country pays attention to the leadership provided by Governor Brown’s approval of this important wildlife and public health law,” said Kimberley Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife California program director. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1991 began to require the use of non-lead shot like steel and copper for hunting ducks and geese across the United States and the National Park Service in 2009 announced the goal of eliminating the use of lead ammunition.

There are already manufacturers of safer, affordable alternatives non-lead in the state of California, and thousands and thousands of hunters in California already use non-lead ammunition for hunting big game in condor country and waterfowl hunting statewide.

 The AB 711 coalition included more than 80 animal protection, public health and environmental organizations, local governments and more than 100 California veterinarians, and dozens of leading scientists. Newspaper editorial boards from across the state voice support for this important legislation, including:

 The Bakersfield Californian: Editorial: Why we must ban lead ammo

 Los Angeles Daily News: Editorial: Ban lead ammo for a more humane California  

San Bernardino Sun: Editorial: Ban lead ammo for a more humane California

(photo by Chuq von Rospach)

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Getting the lead out of ammo

Monterey County Herald: Editorial: Lead-free bullets small price to pay

Sacramento Bee: Editorial: Scare tactics on lead bullet ban should be ignored

Sacramento Bee: Editorial: Time to get the lead out of gun ammo and wildlife

San Jose Mercury News: Editorial: Three bills Gov. Brown should sign

San Jose Mercury News: Editorial: California should ban lead ammunition for all forms of hunting

San Francisco Chronicle: Editorial: Ban lead bullets in hunting

Riverside Press-Enterprise: Editorial: Hits and misses

Riverside Press-Enterprise: Editorial: State should ban lead ammunition for hunting

Ventura Star: Editorial: Lead-free ammo makes sense on many levels

Categories: Uncategorized

4 Comments so far ↓

  • A Proud Native Californian

    Way to go, Audubon California! Truly a great achievement.

  • John

    This is one of those things that Californian’s do that irritate me. “Look at us. We’re so awesome. We’re saving the world!”

    How about you work on curtailing hunting? That would give you something to really pat yourself on the back about… I can’t imagine lead from bullets is a huge contributor to environmental lead in california. Granted, I’m sure it’s not good either way, but replacing it with copper bullets is just switching poisons… See:

    Also, the statement “Lead doesn’t belong in ammunition for hunting, just as it didn’t belong in gas, pipes or pencils.” put me off the whole article and made me think that Kimberley Delfino knows how to make herself sound good on a soapbox, but doesn’t understand how things work in reality. Tetraethyllead was added to gas beginning in the 1920s. It was a way of boosting octane, allowing engines to be more fuel efficient. I’m not saying leaded gas was a good idea. But, fuel efficiency is a good idea… And, with the phaseout of leaded gas we now have MTBE, which does the job lead used to do, plus seeps into the ground water and poisons us that way… Wanna bitch? Bitch about dependance on oil products. Lead pipes? Is this ancient rome? Lead pipes were used there because no other metal could be easily shaped into pipes. Metal extrusion is a modern day thing. America did use lead pipes for a time in the late 19th century, but, most of the lead in America’s plumbing system is actually lead/tin solder on copper pipes. Bad? Yes, but, not as bad as you’d think. And pencils? Pencils were NEVER made from lead. Ever. It’s always been graphite. We call it lead because the English folks who discovered graphite ore in the 16th century didn’t know what it was, so they assumed it was lead and the term stuck.

    The one source of lead she did fail to mention, which is surprising because it’s single handedly the BIGGEST source of lead poisoning in the US, is lead paint. Fail, Ms. Delfino, fail. You may retain your credibility with tree huggers. But, not with me.

    Also, another significant source of lead in the environment which she failed to mention – every electronic device manufactured before 2006 which is now in a landfill. The switch from lead solder to lead free solder in 2006 wasn’t even a US idea. It was an EU mandate. And since the US has no such requirement even still, there are probably still products manufactured today for the US containing lead/tin solder. They just can’t be sold in the EU.

    We’ve had 7 years now to jump on that bandwagon, and we haven’t. Instead we pat ourselves on the back for phasing out, over the next 6 years, lead bullets for hunting in a state that really doesn’t have a large population of hunters…

  • Karl

    Dumb move. Thanks Kalifornia!