Hunters Beware: California Fish and Game Commission Unanimously Approves Regulations Banning Lead Ammunition that Begin to Take Effect Immediately

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As discussed here for some time now, the California legislature’s passage of AB 711 required the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt regulations incrementally implementing a ban on the use of all lead ammunition for any type of hunting in the entire state by July 1, 2019. Despite the lack of any credible scientific foundation to justify doing so and the current scarcity of AB 711-compliant ammunition, the Commission voted unanimously at its April meeting to adopt regulations implementing portions of the ban several years earlier than it was required to, as in this summer!

Before you hunt in California you need to first confirm whether any of the new regulations will effect the type of hunting you plan to do. Phase 1 of the regulations will prohibit the use of lead ammunition when taking any wildlife in State Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves and when taking Bighorn sheep in any part of the state, beginning July 1, 2015. Phase 2 will prohibit the use of lead shot (but not bullets) by July 1, 2016, when taking any of the following: small game mammals, furbearing mammals, non-game mammals and birds, any wildlife for depredation purposes, and any upland game birds except for dove, quail, and snipe (unless hunting at a licensed game bird club, in which case you can continue to use traditional lead based shot). A total ban on the use of lead ammunition for the taking of any wildlife statewide will be the law in California on July 1, 2019.

All the major firearm, hunting, and sportsmen organizations opposed AB 711 from its inception and publicly expressed their concerns regarding the nature and premature timing of the Commission’s proposed regulations implementing it. The National Shooting Sports Foundation even commissioned a study by Southwick Associates scientifically demonstrating AB 711's harmful effects on hunters in California due to the scarcity of non-lead ammunition. The National Rifle Association and the California Rifle and Pistol Association had their lawyers submit a letter to the Commission explaining that early implementation of the regulations would be illegal because the law only allows for doing so where “practicable” and with the current commercial unavailability of non-lead ammunition and the lack of guidelines in place for how AB 711 will be enforced in the field, it is simply not practicable to subject hunters to such regulations at this time. The Hunt for Truth Association also filed an opposition letter to the proposed regulations and provided testimony to the Commission on similar grounds.

But the Commission essentially disregarded these key stakeholders’ input, as appears to be a common theme in recent years. It instead focused on significantly downplaying the effects on hunters by using unrelated numbers borrowed from other much more limited lead ammunition bans, e.g., AB 821 (the condor zone ban) and the federal waterfowl ban and passed the regulations early anyway. So much for the role of science and looking out for hunters.                

The Hunt for Truth Association will continue to oppose the implementation of the new AB 711 regulations and attend and participate in future Commission proceedings, as it has been doing for years. We hope that you do the same.


If you need to speak to someone regarding AB 711 affecting you personally, please contact California Rifle & Pistol Association:

271 E. Imperial Highway; Suite 620

Fullerton, CA 92835

Tel: (800) 305-2772

Email: [email protected]     


If you have questions about how to comply with AB 711, please contact Department of Fish and Wildlife:

1416 9th Street, 12th Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814

Tel: (916) 445-0411

Email: [email protected]

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