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Backers of California’s groundbreaking law on lead ammunition support new federal policy

Lead in ammunition finds its way into food chain, making wildlife and people vulnerable. Policy removing it from federal land is just common sense.

Golden Eagle. Photo: LilySuzie

Sacramento, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2017) – Sponsors of California’s groundbreaking 2013 law requiring hunters to use non-lead ammunition by 2019 today endorsed a new federal policy to phase out the use of lead ammunition and lead-based fishing tackle on property managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The order, issued on the last day of the Obama Administration, will take full effect in 2022.

Representatives of Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife, and The Humane Society of the United States highlighted the Golden State’s leadership on eradicating an unnecessary source of this lethal toxin, and characterized the new federal policy as common sense.

“Lead doesn’t belong in ammunition for hunting, just as it didn’t belong in gas, pipes or paint,” said Kimberley Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife’s California program director. “We hope that the new federal policy is sustained in the new administration. The Service must now work closely with state and tribal wildlife management agencies as it phases in and implements this policy. Close coordination between state, tribal and federal agencies is critical to ensure that wildlife and public lands are protected.”

The danger to wildlife and humans from lead ammunition is well documented. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1991 required 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 by agency personnel. In 2008, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control found that people who ate meat hunted with lead ammunition had higher levels of lead in their bloodstream.

“This isn’t just a bird issue, it’s also a public health issue,” said Audubon California Executive Director Brigid McCormack. “This groundbreaking policy implements common-sense changes to help eliminate a toxin in our environment that is detrimental to all of us.”

California Legislators passed Assembly Bill 711 in 2013 after a thorough review of the scientific evidence concluded that lead ammunition posed a significant threat to people and wildlife. A letter of consensus signed by 30 of the top toxicologists in the country concluded that lead from ammunition was the largest unregulated source of lead knowingly discharged into the environment in the United States.

“California has led the nation in creating humane laws, and in 2013 we sent a message that is still reverberating around the country,” said Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection of The Humane Society of the United States. “This is just another step in creating a healthier environment and healthier communities.  Other states and the federal government should follow suit.”

In California and throughout the country, ammunition manufacturers are making safer, affordable non-lead alternatives, and hunters making the transition to non-lead ammunition are rating it as an accurate and highly performing alternative.

The coalition supporting AB 711 included more than 80 animal protection, public health and environmental organizations; local governments; more than 100 California veterinarians and dozens of leading scientists. Newspaper editorial boards from across the state voiced support for this important legislation.

About Audubon California 

Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 50,000 members in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society. More information is available at

About Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

About the Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated most effective by our peers. For more than 60 years, we have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty. We are the nation’s largest provider of hands-on services for animals, caring for more than 100,000 animals each year, and we prevent cruelty to millions more through our advocacy campaigns.


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