Nonlead Ammunition in California
California Condor © Douglas Croft
CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
Effective July 1, 2008, the California Fish and Game Commission modified the methods of take to prohibit the use of projectiles containing lead when hunting big game and nongame species in an area designated as the California condor range.
In October 2013, Assembly Bill 711 was signed into law requiring the use of nonlead ammunition when taking any wildlife with a firearm in California. This law requires the Commission to adopt by July 1, 2015, regulations that phase-in the statute’s requirements, but it must be fully implemented by July 1, 2019.
CDFW conducted extensive public outreach during 2014 and proposed regulations that phase-in the nonlead requirement. This outreach effort included question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, meetings with hunting organizations and a series of eight public workshops throughout the state. CDFW then presented draft regulations, as modified by public input from these workshops, to the Fish and Game Commission.
In April 2015, the Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW’s proposed regulations, which will implement the nonlead requirement in the following three phases:
Phase 1 – Effective July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition required when taking Nelson bighorn sheep and all wildlife on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves.
Phase 2 – Effective July 1, 2016, nonlead shot 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 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.