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Details of lead ammunition ban for hunting blow up on Internet


This wasn’t a surprise, yet the hunting/shooting community is acting like it has just discovered all lead ammunition will be banned for hunting in California by July 1, 2019. It’s an Internet revelation with the accompanying outrage.

At the end of April, the California Fish and Game Commission formally approved the phase in of the lead ban, a phase-in that was put together by the Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to have the least possible impact on hunters in the state while still meeting the mandate from the state legislature. AB 711 was passed by the state legislature in 2013, and it mandated a complete ban by July 1, 2019 or sooner if feasible.

Hello? The legislature banned lead ammunition for hunting. Did the hunting/shooting folks showing so much outrage over the Commission’s adoption of the phase-in plan somehow think this wasn’t going to happen?

Was everyone asleep when the DFW was traveling around the state all of last year getting input from the public at meetings on how best to phase in the ban?

Did anyone paying attention think the entire lead ban was going to be put off until the very last hour before being implemented? Or maybe not implemented at all?

Apparently, the answer to these questions is “yes.”

For those of you dozing for the past two years, this is what is happening.

All lead ammunition has been banned for all types of hunting in California throughout the entire state. No exceptions. No more lead in hunting by July 1, 2019. That is not up for debate any longer. You can quit sniveling about how there’s no science to back up the statewide ban. Apparently, no one cares or the legislation wouldn’t have passed in the first place. We lost that round. Move on.

The good news? Hunting was not banned (in spite of what some people in the governor’s and DFW director’s offices might want). The issue is whether or not there will be enough non-lead ammunition available to meet the hunting public’s needs. The legislature’s mandate was to phase-in this lead ban as soon as possible, in the least obtrusive way possible for hunters, but not later than the 2019 deadline under any circumstances.

The DFW took this mandate seriously and held a whole series of public hearings last year all over the state and requested written comments to get public and industry feedback. It published a draft Environmental Impact Report on the lead-ban implementation and phase-in plan on Jan. 7 this year. (If you want to be terrified about where we are heading in California, read some of the comments from the far-left environmental community in this near-250-page document. It is available on the DFW’s web site at this link.) So it should not have been a shock when the Fish and Game Commission adopted the following phase-in:

Effective July 1, 2015 (this year): Lead ammunition will be banned for all hunting for all species on State Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves. If you shoot doves at San Jacinto Wildlife Area or the Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area (or the wheat fields on the Finney-Ramer Unit), you will not be allowed to use lead shot on those wildlife areas. In addition, all hunters who are lucky enough to draw a bighorn sheep tag (all 11 of them), must shoot non-lead ammunition.

Effective July 1, 2016: Lead shotgun ammunition will be banned for the taking of all small game and upland game (except quail, doves, and snipe). So starting next year, you may not use lead shotgun ammunition for cottontails, chukar, pheasants or grouse. If you shoot pheasants on licensed game bird clubs (planted birds), the lead ban does not apply, yet. Lead shotgun ammunition will also be banned for the take of all furbearing mammals, non-game birds and mammals, and any wildlife taken for depredation purposes. You will still be able to use lead .22 rimfire ammunition for rabbits and lead centerfire ammunition for deer and other game (outside of the current “condor zone,” where lead ammunition is already banned for big game and varmints).

Effective July 1, 2019: All lead ammunition will be banned for all species of hunted wildlife.

If you look at the rules, the DFW was trying to delay as long as possible all lead bans that involve rimfire, centerfire, handgun, or muzzleloader ammunition. That is where the greatest shortages exist now and will exist in the future. Even the shotgun ammunition bans were phased in anticipating shortages. Hunters can adapt and use existing waterfowl loads in smaller shot sizes (start stocking up now) for chukar and pheasant hunting next year. But the highest volume hunting sports – dove and quail – are pushed right to the end of the phase-in so makers can (hopefully) increase production on steel dove and quail loads. That is three more years for manufacturers to gear up production so California hunters won’t be hung out to dry by this moronic legislation.

So we can act surprised and express all kinds of outrage about how this law is being implemented, or how it was passed, but it is not going to change anything. What we can do is make sure our industry steps up to the plate and gets us non-lead ammunition so this doesn’t end up being a defacto hunting ban. That is what the anti-hunters and faux-scientists who pushed for this ban want.

Are you going to let them win?

[Editor’s Note: Hunters may want to start hammering on ammunition companies to increase supply on non-lead ammunition. An industry survey released last year, suggests ammunition companies might abandon California and the hunters here. See “Ammunition manufacturers set to abandon California hunters, make total hunting ban easier” from Sept. 20 last year at this direct link.]



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