California’s non-lead plan

The start of series of measures to phase in non-lead ammunition use in the US state of California has begun.

The first rules – when hunting on all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands and for Nelson bighorn sheep hunts – came into effect at the start of July with CDFW reminding hunters who may be affected to ensure they acquire the relevant ammo before heading out.

Hunters are also being encouraged to practise shooting non-lead ammunition to make sure firearms are sighted-in properly and shoot accurately when it has to be used, and it warned that such ammunition for some firearm calibres may be in short supply.

It was back in October 2013 that Assembly Bill 711 was signed into law, requiring the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting anywhere in the state by July 1st, 2019.

The bill also required an implementation plan designed to impose the least burden on California's hunters while adhering to the intent of the law.

CDFW organised question-and-answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, held meetings with hunting groups and hosted a series of public workshops to ensure everyone in the state was happy with the implementation before presenting draft regulations to the Fish and Game Commission.

In April, that body adopted CDFW’s suggestions. Further phase-out of lead for hunting in California will continue on July 1st next year, when no-lead ammunition will be required when hunting with shotguns for upland game birds (except for dove, quail and snipe), small game mammals, fur-bearing mammals and non-game birds except for when hunting at licensed game bird clubs.

Non-lead ammunition will also be required when taking wildlife with shotguns for depredation purposes anywhere in the state.

Starting July 1st, 2019, a complete ban on lead ammunition will come into force for hunters when taking any animal anywhere in the state for any purpose. Lead ammunition may still be used for target shooting.

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