A Bill to Ban Lead Ammunition Could Protect California Condors

A Bill to Ban Lead Ammunition Could Protect California Condors

California outlaws lead ammo to safeguard an iconic bird.

By Geoffrey Giller
Published: 09/03/2013

The current rift between hunting and environmental groups marks something of a departure, since they have collaborated on such efforts as deer population control. To make things more complicated, some conservation groups oppose the bill as well. For example, Ducks Unlimited, along with several other groups, wrote in a letter that the new bill "would be devastating to the thousands of Californians that participate in hunting and recreational shooting, the firearms and ammunition industries, as well as the vital conservation programs they fund." Many in this camp regard the bill as veiled attempt to limit hunting, a direct attack on hunters, or an issue of "sav[ing] California's hunting heritage."

Most of their complaints center on the supposed higher price of nonlead hunting ammunition, and ignore a recent study concluding that the price of copper-based ammunition (the common nonlead alternative) is generally comparable to the price of lead-based ammo. And for good measure, AB 711 even calls for establishing "a process that will provide hunters with nonlead ammunition at no or reduced charge."

Frost insists this bill is not about limiting hunting itself. "That's not our goal. We're not trying to outlaw hunting," he says. "We're trying to find something that's good enough to help the birds but doesn't impact these hunting groups and other folks who don't want to make a more radical change."

*This story has been updated to reflect that the legislation was signed into law. 

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Geoffrey Giller

Geoffrey Giller is an intern at Audubon magazine and a master's student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. You can follow him on Twitter @geoffsjg or see some of his work at www.geoffgiller.com.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


Hey law abiding gun owner, we

Hey law abiding gun owner, we are the stewarts of this earth and the protectors of the environment and of our children. Would you feed lead to your children or would you try to protect them because they don't know any better?
Animals are the same as our children, they don't know any better and it is up to us to protect them!
I see the Wildlife disappear around me because my neighbors are poisoning the ground squirrels, when will people learn?

This has nothing to do with

This has nothing to do with law-abiding gun ownership and crime. This has to do with using a safer form of ammo. Many gun owners and hunters have already taken the initiative on their own to switch to lead-free ammo. Stop thinking that your rights are always being infringed upon. We ALL live by rules and regulations.

As a writer and former

As a writer and former "huntress," issues of past and present for me have met in the condor. Years ago I thought nothing of hunting with lead-based ammo. The thought shames me now. I've seen the effects of lead poisoning in condors, in particular, then America's bald eagle. Helpless in their struggle to survive, they often don't, due to the body's shut-down and eventual starvation. One video is worth a thousand words on this one. I continue to write of the condor and its ancient lineage on earth, surviving every battle to sustain life since the last Ice Age. Foolish I'd be to think Man hasn't the power to make or break this bird's existence. . . lead could easily be the tie-breaker.

Rob, no one is trying to take

Rob, no one is trying to take your guns or Ammo. Just a change to protect an iconic American bird. If we do not try to protect our wildlife then there will be nothing left to hunt, and your guns would only be good for shooting each other.

Thanks you Audubon and

Thanks you Audubon and Geoffrey Giller for bringing this issue to light. I grew up in California and used to see California condors all of the time. I t is shocking that they are now so critically endangered and for such a stupid, avoidable reason.

At last some have seen the

At last some have seen the light. Lead was the downfall of the California Condor. I just am delighted that this has come to pass.

Another sad day for law

Another sad day for law abiding firearm owners. When will the insanity stop. Just purchased some ammo at Foxtrot Gear. American that understand and believe in the Constitution understand the constant assault against the Second Amendment. Actions and laws like this do nothing to stop crime, just to impede against law abiding citizens.

I don't hunt but I do own a

I don't hunt but I do own a hand gun and used to love fishing until I had some ducks I'd raised from eggs that died of lead poisoning after some idiots went fishing at my parent's pond and dropped lead weights on the ground and were too lazy to bother picking them up. I'd gladly buy alternate ammo to save birds from this horrible sickness that is 100% preventable.

Surely we have something else

Surely we have something else we can make bullets with beside lead. I am not opposed to hunting and I have enjoyed fishing, but if there is any concern over lead staying in the ground or water or poisoning secondary animals we should stop using it. I don't understand why anyone would be opposed to this.

A true "no brainer." The ban

A true "no brainer." The ban should be nationwide, and it should include a ban on the use of lead in fishing tackle, too. Untold thousands of waterfowl such as swans, loons, cormorants, diving ducks, et al., sicken and die annually from ingesting lost lead fishing weights (sinkers).

AB 711 could be heard by the full Senate as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, September 4. Last-minute calls of support to your State Senator are needed NOW. (If in doubt as to who your rep is, see the "Government" pages in the front of your local telephone book.)

Sadly, to date the votes have been almost 100% along party lines: Democrats in support; Republicans against. Go figure. Shouldn't environmental protection be a bi-partisan issue? Teddy Roosevelt must be whirling in his grave.

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