Press Room

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Historic Legislation Requiring the Use of Non-Lead Hunting Ammunition

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.

"The right amount of lead in your blood is zero," said David Yarnold. "Today California showed again that it's a leader in environmental legislation. Gov. Brown and Assemblymembers Rendon and Pan showed real courage and won a victory for birds and people."

“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 also voiced support for this important legislation.


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