BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 821
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 25, 2007 

                                  Mark Leno, Chair

                     AB 821 (Nava) - As Amended:  April 19, 2007 

          Policy Committee:                              Water, Parks &  
          Wildlife     Vote:                            8-5

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              No


          This bill requires hunters of big game and coyote, when hunting  
          in specific areas in and around the habitat of the California  
          condor, to use nonlead ammunition in an effort to protect the  
          condor from lead poisoning.  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Requires the Fish and Game Commission (FGC), by January 1,  
            2008, to establish a regulatory process to certify, and  
            annually update, nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol  

          2)Requires the FGC, to the extent funding is available, to  
            provide these hunters with nonlead ammunition at no cost or a  
            reduced cost through a redeemable coupon program.

          3)Requires the FGC to issue a report on the coupon program, if  
            implemented, by June 2009, 2010, and 2013 covers the prior  
            calendar year, and to issue a report, on the same schedule, on  
            the levels of lead found in California condors.

          4)Subjects hunters who fail to use nonlead ammunition in the  
            specified hunting areas to a $500 fine for the first violation  
            and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 for a second or subsequent  

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)Minor costs, probably less than $25,000 in 2007-08, to the  
            Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to develop regulations on  
            nonlead ammunition certification and to develop the nonlead  
            ammunition coupon program.  (Fish and Game Preservation Fund  


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          2)Minor costs, probably less than $25,000 in 2008-09, 2009-10,  
            and 2012-13, to the DFG to report on the coupon program and on  
            lead levels in California condors. (FGPF)

          3)Moderate potential costs, up to $1.2 million primarily in  
            2008-09, to the DFG to pay the redemption value on nonlead  
            ammunition coupons used by hunters.  Costs are based on how  
            many of the 33,000 hunters eligible for coupons will redeem  
            them, whether the coupons pay for an entire box of ammunition  
            or just the price difference between lead and nonlead  
            ammunition and how many boxes can be bought using coupons.   
            This bill specifies the coupon program is implemented only  
            when sufficient funds are obtained from local, federal ,  
            public, or other nonstate sources. (FGPF)



           1)Rationale  .  The author contends that big game hunters use of  
            lead ammunition in areas in and around the habitat of the  
            California condor has resulted in increasing increased condor  
            mortality due to lead poisoning.  By requiring these hunters  
            to use nonlead ammunition, the author hopes to reduce the  
            level of lead ingested by condors and to gradually reduce lead  
            levels in condor blood, while not affecting the quality of the  
            hunting experience.

           2)Background  .  The California condor is a federally-listed  
            endangered species and a state-listed endangered species and  
            fully-protected species.  As scavengers, condors feed  
            primarily on carrion, some of which is big game (deer, elk,  
            pronghorn antelope, wild pig, black bear, and bighorn sheep)  
            killed by hunters using rifles loaded with lead ammunition.   
            Lead is ingested by condors from the flesh of this carrion.   
            The resulting lead poisoning jeopardizes the long-term  
            survival of the California condor species, the population of  
            which in the state is 244, of which 114 exist in the wild.

           3)Cause and Effect Evidence  .  Environmentalists and conservation  
            groups have long been at odds with big game hunters over  
            whether there is conclusive evidence that lead poisoning of  
            the California condor is connected to the use of lead  


                                                                  AB 821
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            ammunition by hunters in and around condor habitat.  In 2006,  
            a study published in the journal Environmental Science and  
            Technology linked the lead isotope compositions in condors to  
            the lead isotopes in ammunition samples.  The study concluded  
            that ingestion of ammunition in carcasses of big game killed  
            by hunters is the principal source of elevated lead exposures  
            threatening the recovery of wild condors.

           4)Recent Regulatory Activities  .  In December 2004, the Natural  
            Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other environmental and  
            conservation groups petitioned the FGC to ban the use of lead  
            ammunition.  The FGC denied the petition but directed the DFG  
            to research the issue and make recommendations for the  
            commission's 2007 mammal regulations update.  In September  
            2006, the NRDC and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against  
            the FGC and the DFG alleging state regulations permitting the  
            use of lead ammunition within the California condor range and  
            the issuance of hunting licenses, violate the Endangered  
            Species Act.  While the lawsuit is pending, the DFG released a  
            recommendation that hunting with lead bullets be banned  
            everywhere in the California condor range.  The FGC recently  
            heard public testimony on these recommendations and is  
            scheduled to vote on them in May or June.

           5)Coupon Program  .  A DFG nonlead ammunition coupon program is  
            likely to be structured in a similar manner to an existing  
            program in Arizona.  The Arizona Game and Fish Department  
            (AGFD) administered a free nonlead ammunition program for the  
            fall 2005 hunting season.  The AGFD, using money from the  
            state's Heritage Fund (state lottery revenue), offered two  
            free boxes of nonlead ammunition to 2,393 deer and bighorn  
            sheep rifle hunters for hunts taking place in the California  
            condor range.  Coupons to obtain the free ammunition  
            accompanied a letter outlining condor lead poisoning issues  
            and asking for hunters' help in reducing the amount of lead  
            available to condors.  About 65% of eligible hunters  
            participated in the program by redeeming their coupons for  
            nonlead ammunition.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Steve Archibald / APPR. / (916)