California Begins Implementing their Statewide Lead Bullet Ban

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Beginning July 1, 2015, the State of California begins implementing their Statewide lead bullet ban.  Although the “science” behind this ban has shown to be flawed, California is proceeding with its ban on lead ammunition with Phase 1 going into effect today.

The roll-out of the ban, that begins today, will be completed on July 1, 2019, with a complete ban on lead ammunition, through-out the state:

Phase 1 – Effective July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking Nelson bighorn sheep and all wildlife on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves.

Phase 2 – Effective July 1, 2016, nonlead shot will be required when taking upland game birds with a shotgun, except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game birds taken on licensed game bird clubs. In addition, nonlead shot will be required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds, and any wildlife for depredation purposes.

Phase 3 – Effective July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California.

Existing restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in the California condor range remain in effect while implementation proceeds.

More information, as well as a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Nonlead Ammunition webpage.

Some of the frequently asked questions are as follows:

What are the regulations for possessing lead ammunition?
Current regulations prohibit the possession of lead projectiles with a firearm capable of firing such projectiles when hunting for big game or nongame species within the California condor range. Beginning July 1, 2015, certified nonlead ammunition will be required while hunting any CDFW property and for all 2015 bighorn sheep hunts. Possession of lead ammunition for a firearm used to hunt on a CDFW property or for bighorn sheep on or after that date is a violation that may result in citation.

What are the Regulations and Options for Hunting with 22 caliber or smaller rimfire firearms?
Rimfire firearms are not legal in California for hunting or depredation take of big game animals or wild turkeys. Rimfire firearms are legal for take of nongame and small game animals. Beginning on July 1, 2015, certified nonlead rimfire ammunition will be required to take any wildlife species (game and nongame) on CDFW properties. The statewide requirement for use of nonlead rimfire when taking wildlife will go into effect on July 1, 2019.

Are pellet guns included in the nonlead ammunition ban? (I’ve notified them of this.  I believe it should say “lead ammunition ban”.)
Since pellet rifles are not firearms, the use of lead projectiles in pellet rifles is not prohibited.

How does this affect private lands and landowners?
These regulations apply both to public and private lands. Private landowners or anyone authorized to hunt on private land must also comply with these regulations. Current regulations prohibit the use of lead ammunition while hunting big game or nongame species within the California condor range regardless of land ownership.

How does this affect depredation permits?
CDFW issues depredation permits for a variety of species to reduce damage to property. Depredation permit holders within the condor protection range are required to use certified nonlead ammunition to take any and all species identified on the permit. The use of certified nonlead ammunition will be required while using a shotgun for depredation purposes on a statewide basis beginning July 1, 2016 and with any firearm starting July 1, 2019.

A friend frequently asks me to shoot ground squirrels on his property to reduce crop damage and minimize injuries to his livestock. Will the new ammunition requirements apply to this activity?
Yes. It’s currently a requirement in the condor protection range and will be a requirement on a statewide basis beginning on July 1, 2019.


For more information, please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Nonlead Ammunition webpage.

Varminter Magazine
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