BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 711 (Rendon)
          As Amended  April 17, 2013
          Majority vote 

           WATER, PARKS & WILDLIFE        9-5                   
          APPROPRIATIONS      11-5        
           
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          |Ayes:|Rendon, Blumenfield,      |Ayes:|Gatto, Bocanegra,         |
          |     |Bocanegra, Fong, Frazier, |     |Bradford,                 |
          |     |Gatto, Gomez, Yamada,     |     |Ian Calderon, Campos,     |
          |     |Williams                  |     |Gomez, Hall, Ammiano,     |
          |     |                          |     |Pan, Quirk, Weber         |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |Nays:|Bigelow, Allen, Dahle,    |Nays:|Harkey, Bigelow,          |
          |     |Beth Gaines, Patterson    |     |Donnelly, Linder, Wagner  |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           SUMMARY  :   Requires the use of nonlead ammunition for the taking  
          of wildlife in California.  Specifically,  this bill  :

          1)Requires use of nonlead ammunition for the taking of all  
            wildlife in California, including game mammals, game birds,  
            nongame birds, and nongame mammals, with any firearm.

          2)Requires the Fish and Game Commission (FGC), by July 1, 2014,  
            to certify, by regulation, nonlead ammunition for these  
            purposes.  Defines nonlead ammunition as including only  
            ammunition in which there is no lead content.  Requires FGC to  
            also adopt regulations by July 1, 2014, that phase in the  
            nonlead ammunition requirements to be fully implemented  
            statewide by no later than July 1, 2016.  Provides that the  
            existing restrictions on use of lead ammunition in California  
            condor habitat shall continue in effect until the statewide  
            nonlead ammunition requirements are implemented.

          3)Expands the FGC's existing authority to establish a process to  
            provide hunters with nonlead ammunition at no or reduced  
            charge within certain hunting zones, to instead apply  
            statewide.

          4)States legislative findings and declarations regarding the  
            threats to public health and wildlife posed by lead in the  








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            environment, and the availability of nonlead ammunition  
            alternatives.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Requires the use of nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol  
            ammunition when taking big game or coyotes in specified deer  
            hunting zones known to be California Condor range.
          2)Requires the FGC to certify nonlead ammunition by regulation  
            and defines nonlead ammunition to include only centerfire  
            rifle and pistol ammunition in which there is no lead content.  
             Requires the FGC to annually update the list of certified  
            nonlead ammunition.

          3)Authorizes the FGC, to the extent funding is available, to  
            establish a process to provide hunters within specified deer  
            hunting zones known to be California condor habitat with  
            nonlead ammunition at no or reduced charge.

          4)Prohibits the use of lead ammunition to hunt waterfowl (United  
            States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regulation).

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, minor costs, probably less than $50,000 for the  
          Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to develop regulations to  
          certify ammunition as nonlead and distribute educational  
          materials.  Extending current nonlead enforcement would result  
          in minor, if any, additional costs for law enforcement by DFW.

           COMMENTS  :  This bill requires the use of nonlead ammunition for  
          the hunting of any wildlife in California to reduce the risk of  
          lead exposure to wildlife and humans.  California required the  
          use of nonlead ammunition to hunt big game and coyotes in areas  
          of the state identified as California condor range in 2007.   
          That requirement was enacted in response to evidence showing  
          lead poisoning is a leading cause of mortality in condors, a  
          critically endangered species.  Condors are scavengers that feed  
          primarily on dead carrion which is a source of ingested lead  
          ammunition fragments.  The Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife  
          Committee analysis on AB 821 (Nava) of 2007 contains an overview  
          of the scientific studies documenting the impacts of lead  
          ammunition on California condors.  In addition to condors,  
          scientific studies have documented deaths and other adverse  
          health effects of lead exposure on other wildlife species,  








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          including avian predators and scavengers such as bald eagles,  
          golden eagles, turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks and ravens, as  
          well as numerous upland game bird species, such as mourning  
          doves, ring-necked pheasants, and wild turkeys.  The USFWS  
          adopted a nationwide ban on the use of lead ammunition for  
          hunting waterfowl in 1991 after studies showed waterfowl can  
          ingest expended lead shot and die or suffer other debilitating  
          effects from lead exposure.

          The author of this bill notes 50 years of research have shown  
          lead in the environment poses an ongoing threat to public health  
          and California's wildlife species, including federally listed  
          threatened and endangered species.  Lead is recognized by the  
          Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States  
          Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as toxic to both humans  
          and animals.  Lead is a potent neurotoxin and, according to the  
          CDC, there is no identified safe exposure limit for humans.   
          Because lead interferes with the nervous system it is  
          particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent  
          learning and behavior disorders, which is also why it has been  
          outlawed in paint, gasoline, toys, etc.  However, lead continues  
          to persist in the environment due to its continued use in lead  
          ammunition.  Lead ammunition fragments and lead shot in felled  
          wildlife can be consumed by other animals and passed along the  
          food chain.  Dairy and beef cattle have also developed lead  
          poisoning after feeding in areas where spent lead ammunition has  
          accumulated.  The United States Geological Service estimates  
          upland hunting fields may have as much as 400,000 shot per acre  
          in some areas.  While the state and federal government have  
          adopted some successful restrictions on the use of lead  
          ammunition for big game hunting in the California condor range  
          and for waterfowl hunting, because these restrictions only apply  
          in certain areas or to particular species or types of wildlife,  
          many species of wildlife remain threatened by use of lead  
          ammunition.

          According to the USFWS, a study conducted in the mid-1990s  
          suggests the nationwide ban on the use of lead shot for  
          waterfowl hunting has had remarkable success.  Six years after  
          the ban, researchers estimated a 64% reduction in lead poisoning  
          deaths of surveyed mallard ducks and a 78% decline in lead  
          pellet ingestion.  The study concluded the restrictions on lead  
          shot have prevented the deaths of thousands of waterfowl.  Two  
          recent studies by the University of California at Davis also  








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          found evidence that the ban on use of lead ammunition for  
          hunting big game in the California condor range may have had an  
          ancillary benefit for golden eagles and turkey vultures.  The  
          studies found a correlation between the condor lead ban and  
          blood lead levels in turkey vultures and golden eagles, which  
          have declined since the condor lead ban took effect.

          A consensus statement authored by 30 scientists with expertise  
          in lead and environmental health was published on March 23,  
          2013.  The consensus statement endorses the overwhelming  
          scientific evidence on the toxic effects of lead on human and  
          wildlife health, and urges support for reduction and eventual  
          elimination of lead released to the environment through the  
          discharge of lead-based ammunition, in order to protect human  
          and environmental health.  Authors of the consensus statement  
          include scientists from such institutions as the University of  
          California (at Davis, Berkeley and Santa Cruz), Harvard Medical  
          School, Rutgers University, John Hopkins University, Cornell  
          University, and the University of Cambridge.

          According to the Association of Avian Veterinarians  
          (Association), lead is a potent toxin to wild birds that can  
          have individual and population level effects.  The Association  
          notes mortality and morbidity from exposure to lead ammunition  
          has been documented for decades in water birds, upland game  
          birds, scavengers and avian predators.  At toxic levels, lead  
          causes lethargy, gastrointestinal stasis, anorexia, vomiting,  
          diarrhea, anemia, disturbances of cellular metabolic functions,  
          and neurologic injury leading to blindness, seizures, weakness  
          and death.  At lower levels, lead exposure causes a number of  
          sub-lethal effects such as neurological damage, tissue and organ  
          damage, and reproductive impairment.  Recent studies suggest  
          over one-quarter of bald eagles admitted to rehabilitation  
          facilities have elevated blood lead levels.  Current data for  
          raptors and avian scavengers demonstrate positive correlations  
          of lead exposure during hunting seasons.  

          The public health effects of lead, which can be life threatening  
          at high levels, can also be damaging at low exposure levels.   
          Human health effects from lead exposure include but are not  
          limited to, impaired cognition, Attention Deficit Disorder,  
          psychiatric disorders, learning disabilities, internal organ  
          damage, increased blood pressure, hypertension, and arrhythmia.   
          An article published in Scientific American in February 2013  








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          notes studies show lead exposure may also be a factor in elderly  
          dementia.  Pregnant women and children are especially sensitive  
          to the effects of lead exposure because the brains of children  
          are still developing. According to the CDC, there is no safe  
          level of lead exposure for children.  A number of studies have  
          looked at the potential impacts to humans of ingesting game meat  
          shot with lead ammunition.  Increased blood lead levels in  
          humans have been positively correlated with consumption of game  
          meat taken with lead ammunition, particularly in humans who  
          regularly consume game meat.  A CDC study conducted in North  
          Dakota and published in Environmental Research in 2009 found  
          people who ate wild game had 30-50% higher blood lead levels in  
          comparison to those who did not consume wild game.  A study by  
          the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources determined lead  
          bullet fragments can be present in hunter harvested venison and  
          can become lodged in tissue as far as 14 inches from the wound  
          site.  State health and wildlife agencies in North Dakota,  
          Minnesota and Wisconsin have recommended women and children do  
          not eat any game harvested with lead ammunition.  Both North  
          Dakota and Minnesota have also sent advisories to food pantries  
          not to distribute or use donated ground venison after lab tests  
          showed contamination with lead fragments. 

          An argument against nonlead ammunition requirements in the past  
          has been the alleged absence of effective and affordable  
          alternatives.  Since the 1991 USFWS ban on use of lead shot for  
          waterfowl hunting, and the enactment of other restrictions on  
          the use of lead ammunition in California and other states, the  
          availability of alternatives has expanded and prices have become  
          more competitive.  The most commonly used alternatives are  
          copper or copper alloy bullets which are designed not to  
          fragment.  A recent study published in 2012 in Ambio, a journal  
          of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, found that wide  
          product availability, comparable prices and effectiveness of  
          lead-free alternatives now makes phase out of lead ammunition  
          feasible worldwide.  The survey found a wide range of lead-free  
          bullet calibers are available in the United States and Europe at  
          comparable prices and ballistic performance.  Barnes Bullets LLC  
          in the United States is the world's largest manufacturer of  
          lead-free bullets.  Lead-free bullets manufactured by Barnes and  
          other manufacturers are available for a wide selection of  
          hunting cartridges made by 37 different manufacturers.   
          According to the survey, virtually all of the lead-core bullet  
          calibers used for hunting are available in lead-free form, as  








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          are the cartridges into which they are loaded.  Online  
          commercial availability has also increased, with 48 different  
          hunting rifle cartridges with lead-free bullets available now  
          from online retailers.  

          Fears that enactment of the requirement to use lead-free  
          ammunition in the California condor range would lead to a  
          reduction in the number of hunters in California have not  
          materialized.  According to data maintained by DFW, hunting tag  
          sales for deer hunting in California since the California condor  
          lead-free requirement took effect in 2008 have not declined.   
          The number of deer tags sold in 2007, prior to the ban, was  
          26,104, and in 2011 the number sold was 27,453. 

          Supporters argue over 500 published scientific studies,  
          including numerous peer reviewed studies, document that more  
          than 130 species of wildlife are negatively affected by lead  
          ammunition.  Supporters assert this bill will help stop the harm  
          lead ammunition is causing to wildlife, the environment and  
          people.  Since viable alternatives to lead ammunition for  
          hunting exist that are competitively priced and effective,  
          supporters assert there is no reason to continue to expose the  
          environment, humans or wildlife to the risks associated with  
          lead ammunition.  Supporters also note the ban on use of lead  
          ammunition in the California condor range, while helpful, is not  
          enough, as wildlife and humans continue to be exposed to lead  
          through use of lead ammunition in other parts of California and  
          for forms of hunting other than big game.  Supporters also  
          emphasize this bill is supportive of hunting rather than  
          anti-hunting, and will help put hunting on a more long-term  
          sustainable basis by shifting to less environmentally harmful  
          and more effective ammunition that does not leave a toxic  
          footprint.     

          Opponents assert that there is no conclusive proof lead  
          ammunition is the cause of the decline of the California condor,  
          a scientific consensus is not sufficient, and lead ammunition  
          should not be banned without absolute proof.  With regard to  
          studies linking the lead isotopes in lead ammunition to lead  
          found in condors, opponents assert the studies are inconclusive  
          because they did not compare the lead found in condors with the  
          lead isotopes in other items such as car batteries and lead  
          fishing tackle.  They also assert copper bullets may be toxic as  
          well and warrant further study.  Opponents argue a ban on lead  








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          ammunition will have an adverse business impact on lawful  
          ammunition retailers and gun shows, and could have a negative  
          impact on DFW and local economies.  They also assert research  
          shows lead levels in condors have not significantly changed in  
          two years after lead ammunition was banned in the condor range,  
          and therefore there may be other sources of lead that are  
          contaminating condors.  Opponents urge alternatives such as  
          voluntary burying of gut piles by hunters, and argue the FGC  
          rather than the Legislature is the proper forum for  
          consideration of a statewide ban on use of lead ammunition.   
          Opponents also argue there is a lack of effective alternatives  
          for some applications, and fear nonlead ammunition could be  
          banned by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and  
          Explosives (ATF) as armor piercing ammunition.  While the ATF  
          can grant a waiver if the ammunition is primarily intended to be  
          used for sporting purposes such as hunting, the ATF has not yet  
          acted officially to grant the waivers.  While the ATF has not  
          actually ruled any existing nonlead hunting ammunition products  
          already in use are illegal, opponents nevertheless assert the  
          uncertainty as to whether a waiver would be granted has a  
          chilling effect on the willingness of manufacturers to invest  
          research into development of more nonlead ammunition  
          alternatives.


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Diane Colborn / W., P. & W. / (916)  
          319-2096


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