July 28, 2014
Study shows nontoxic ammunition widely available throughout California
Availability of alternatives indicates that state can begin implementing law requiring use of nonlead ammunition without hindering hunting activities
A new study from one of the world’s leading experts in use of nontoxic ammunition shows that nonlead ammunition is widely available throughout California. The study surveyed retail stores in California and online sources, concluding there is widespread market and retail availability of all popular shotgun and rifle ammunition types for the take of wildlife in California.
Last year, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 711, requiring the state’s Fish and Game Commission to implement regulations requiring the use of nontoxic, nonlead ammunition for all hunting in California by 2019. In his signing message approving the bill, Gov. Jerry Brown urged the Commission to phase in this implementation in the “least disruptive” manner possible. The study addresses Gov. Brown’s request and addresses any concerns regarding the uncertainty about the market and retail availability of nonlead ammunition in California.
“With nonlead ammunition already this widely available before the law is even implemented, we can only expect this availability to increase even more once the law is active,” said Dr. Vernon Thomas, who presented his study to the Commission’s Wildlife Resources Committee on Monday. “The findings should give the Department and Commission confidence that they can implement AB 711 as soon as possible without disrupting hunting activity in California.”
Thomas’ report was commissioned by the sponsors of AB 711 (Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and The Humane Society of the United States).
According to Thomas, five major U.S. companies already produce nonlead rifle ammunition in more than 48 different calibers that are readily available online and in major sporting/hunting goods stores in California. These calibers include those suitable for hunting all designated species in California.
Of the 111 retail stores in California surveyed for this study, 76 percent carried at least some nonlead ammunition for the purposes of hunting. Availability of nonlead calibers in these stores ranged across the most common hunting ammunition types. In cases where nonlead ammunition cannot be found in a retail store, online retailers are often able to provide the desired ammunition.
Thomas noted that many retailers are actually waiting for the state to implement AB 711 before they begin stocking nonlead ammunition, or expand their current offerings.
"For the minority of stores that had low or no inventory of nonlead ammunition, they reported that lack of customer demand was the primary reason, suggesting that the sooner customers must comply with AB711, the sooner availability on store shelves will increase,” said Thomas.
The California state legislature approved AB 711 in response to mounting research showing that lead from ammunition poses a danger to wildlife and human health. More than 130 wildlife species have been found to be at risk of poisoning by spent lead ammunition left behind by hunters in the field, and people consuming meat hunted with lead ammunition have been shown to have higher levels of lead in their bloodstream.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibited the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991, and California passed a law requiring the use of nonlead ammunition within the range of the California condor in 2007.
The Humane Society of the United States: Kaitlin Sanderson, (301) 721-6463, firstname.lastname@example.org
Audubon California: Garrison Frost, (415) 644-4604, email@example.com
Defenders of Wildlife: Courtney Sexton, 202-772-0253, firstname.lastname@example.org