Proposed legislation that would require the use of non-lead ammunition for all hunting in California today passed its first legislative test. Assembly Bill 711, co-authored by Assemblymembers Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) sailed through the Assembly’s Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee. Audubon California is co-sponsoring the bill with the Humane Society of the United States and Defenders of Wildlife.

“Today we really saw the strength of the broad coalition that is gathering behind this common-sense bill,” said Dan Taylor, Audubon California’s director of public policy. “It’s startling how much lead is being left behind in some of California’s best natural landscapes – and it just doesn’t have to happen.”

Toxic lead in ammunition poisons endangered California Condors and other wildlife that eat spent lead ammunition when they come upon carcasses or “gut piles” left behind by hunters in the field. Mourning Doves also consume lead shot that they find on the ground. Predatory birds, including our nation’s symbol – the Bald Eagle – ingest lead when they eat prey species that have been poisoned.

Extensive research has demonstrated conclusively that lead from ammunition poses a threat to humans as well. The Centers for Disease Control has reported that people who ate meat from animals hunted with lead ammunition had higher levels of lead in their blood. Lead is a potent neurotoxin – and not safe for humans at any level of exposure.

“Lead is a toxicant that is bad for human health and the environment, and lead ammunition exposes humans and other animals to this life-threatening poison,” said Assemblymember Rendon. “We’ve removed lead from our homes, our gas tanks, even our children’s toy boxes, but we’ve failed to remove it from the lands that wildlife eat from, cattle graze on, or where rain can wash it into water ways that farms depend on.”

Eliminating lead ammunition is already a priority for national agencies, and there are affordable, safer alternatives available and in use by hunters across the country.

“The Centers for Disease Control and leading scientists from around the country agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure for humans,” said Dr. Pan, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “As a pediatrician, I am proud to coauthor AB 711 to phase out use of lead ammunition and reduce lead in our environment.”

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 non-lead ammunition in the state of California, and thousands and thousands of waterfowl hunters in California already use non-lead ammunition.

About Audubon California 

Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 50,000 members in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society. More information is available at www.ca.audubon.org.

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