BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

          |                                                                 |
          |                   Senator Fran Pavley, Chair                    |
          |                    2013-2014 Regular Session                    |
          |                                                                 |

          BILL NO: AB 711                    HEARING DATE: June 11, 2013  
          AUTHOR: Rendon                     URGENCY: No  
          VERSION: April 17, 2013            CONSULTANT: Katharine Moore  
          DUAL REFERRAL: No                  FISCAL: Yes  
          SUBJECT: Hunting: nonlead ammunition.  
          Lead has long been known to be a toxic substance with no  
          biological benefits whose effects are considered to be  
          cumulative.  According to the United States Environmental  
          Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  
          lead is toxic to both humans and animals.  It is a potent  
          neurotoxin to which pregnant women and children are particularly  
          susceptible, and there is no safe exposure level established for  
          humans.  As a result, lead has been removed from paint,  
          gasoline, children's toys and other items.  Exposure to lead is  
          by inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact from contaminated  
          air, water, soil and food.

          In the wild, higher order predators can be exposed to lead from  
          eating wildlife shot with lead ammunition.  Other exposure  
          routes can include eating in areas with substantial  
          environmental lead.  For example, there is a report that dairy  
          and beef cattle fed in areas where spent lead ammunition has  
          accumulated can also be a source of lead in the food chain.  In  
          some locations, the United States Geological Survey has  
          estimated that upland hunting fields may contain as much as  
          400,000 lead shot per acre.

          The Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act (AB 821, Nava, c. 520,  
          Statutes of 2007) requires the use of nonlead centerfire rifle  
          and pistol ammunition when taking big game or coyotes in  
          specified deer hunting zones in the California condor range.   
          California banned the use of lead ammunition in California  
          condor habitat to reduce the risk of lead poisoning to the  
          critically endangered species.  Lead poisoning was shown to be a  
          leading cause of mortality in condors, as condors are scavengers  


          and feed primarily on dead carrion - a source of ingested lead.   
          Condors and other wildlife - including avian predators and  
          scavengers such as bald eagles, golden eagles, turkey vultures,  
          red-tailed hawks and ravens, remained threatened by  
          environmental lead.  Numerous upland game bird species,  
          including mourning doves, ring-necked pheasants and wild  
          turkeys, are also threatened by lead poisoning and, thus, the  
          continued high levels of environmental lead.  For example,  
          mourning doves suffer acute effects from lead ingestion and  
          research has shown that changes induced in their behavior within  
          a day of eating lead result in increased mortality.  Missouri  
          banned the use of lead shot in state conservations areas several  
          years ago upon determining that approximately 6.5% of mourning  
          doves at lead shot, thus killing almost as many doves annually  
          as hunters did.

          Existing law also requires the Fish and Game Commission  
          (commission) to certify nonlead ammunition by regulation, and  
          update its certified ammunition list annually. In an effort to  
          combat lead poisoning of water fowl, the United States Fish and  
          Wildlife Service (USFWS) banned the use of lead shells for  
          waterfowl hunting in the 1991.  While the state and federal  
          government have adopted some successful restrictions on the use  
          of lead ammunition in the instances noted above, these  
          restrictions only apply in certain areas or to particular  
          species or types of wildlife.

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill would ban the use of lead ammunition for hunting in  
          California.  Specifically, the bill would:
                 Make numerous uncodified legislative findings regarding  
               the threats to public health and wildlife posed by lead in  
               the environment, and the ready availability of nonlead  
               ammunition with similar performance characteristics.
                 Modify the existing ban on the use of specified lead  
               ammunition for certain species in certain parts of the  
               state to a more general ban on the use of lead ammunition  
               discharged from any firearm for the taking of all wildlife.
                 Set a July 1, 2014 target date for the commission to  
               establish a public process to certify, by regulation,  
               nonlead ammunition.
                 Expand the existing program, funding permitted, to  
               provide hunters with nonlead ammunition throughout the  
                 Provide an exemption from the required use of nonlead  
               ammunition for government officials when carrying out their  
               mandatory statutory duties


                 Require that the commission promulgate regulations by  
               July 1, 2014 to start the phase-in of the nonlead  
               ammunition requirements with full implementation to be  
               achieved by July 1, 2016, and require that no changes be  
               made in areas where lead ammunition is already restricted  
               to protect the California condor.
          According to the author, "Assembly Bill 711 is a long overdue  
          reform. [?] Lead is a toxin that is bad for human health and the  
          environment, and lead ammunition exposes humans and other  
          animals to this life-threatening poison. [?] Lead-based  
          ammunition is one of the greatest sources of lead discharged to  
          our lands and water.  Scientists agree that this poses a  
          significant risk to human health and the environment.  Meat from  
          animals shot with lead ammunition poses as a health risk to  
          humans. Because lead shatters upon impact, meat from animals  
          shot by hunters using lead ammunition often contains tiny  
          fragments of lead that are ingested by humans and other  

          "Lead ammunition still threatens the California condor, golden  
          eagle and other protected species.  Similarly, one in five  
          free-flying condors has ingested such significant levels of lead  
          from these sources that they are at risk of dying from lead  
          poisoning.  [?] Just last year, a study published by the  
          National Academy of Sciences concluded that unless lead  
          ammunition is removed from the environment entirely, the  
          California condor won't survive on its own."

          According to the Humane Society of the United States, "in  
          California, lead ammunition has been a problem for wildlife for  
          decades and has grave implications for public health. [?]  Lead  
          poisoning is an extremely painful and sometimes drawn-out  
          process that can leave animals and people permanently disabled,  
          and is a lethal threat to all wildlife, including endangered and  
          protected species."

          "This threat is wholly preventable.  Assembly Bill 711 is a  
          solid step forward in addressing the persistent lead poisonings  
          that are taking place across our state.  Just last week a golden  
          eagle, who received intensive veterinary treatment for several  
          weeks, lost her life due to ingesting lead ammunition fragments  
          in the gut pile of a discarded, hunted carcass.  By removing  
          lead ammunition from hunting, deaths like this one will no  
          longer be the norm. [?] The science is clear; lead ammunition is  
          dangerous and the market is continually expanding to fulfill the  


          nonlead ammunition demand."

          According to the California Rifle and Pistol Association, AB 711  
          "is designed to circumvent the regulatory process delegated by  
          the Legislature to the commission. [?] The commission is  
          currently reviewing the science related to the use of lead and  
          its impacts on wildlife [?] The commission is the appropriate  
          venue for this review." They argue that despite the lead  
          ammunition ban in condor zones that condor blood lead  
          concentration levels have continued to rise despite very high  
          hunter compliance with the use of nonlead ammunition.

          Materials provided by the National Rifle Association state that  
          "the failure of California's lead ammunition ban to decrease  
          lead poisoning [in condors] proves conclusively that [it is]  
          alternative sources of lead in the environment that is causing  
          lead poisoning. [?] There are serious questions about the  
          purported nexus between traditional ammunition and lead  
          poisoning and the mortality in California condors and other  

          According to the California Association of Firearms Retailers,  
          "manufacturers are saying there may be a shortage of nonlead  
          ammunition as the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms  
          and Explosives (ATF) has determined that such ammunition meets  
          the definition of prohibited armor piercing ammunition and  
          manufacturers may no longer be able to produce it.  If this is  
          not resolved, there would be no lawful ammunition for hunting  
          and thus no hunting."

          According to Crossroads of the West, the passage of AB 711  
          "would be a substantial loss of hunting license sales and  
          operating revenue to [the Department of Fish and Wildlife  
          (department)]. [?] Acceptable alternatives to lead ammunition  
          remain limited compared to the availability of various calibers  
          and loadings of lead ammunition used for hunting.  The  
          alternatives are also more expensive, creating an economic  
          barrier to their use."

          The department released a letter dated May 30, 2013 that took an  
          "oppose unless amended" position on this bill.  The department  
          proposed three amendments in its letter:
                 Additional time to promulgate regulations
                 An extension of the full implementation date, and
                 Language to ensure consistency with existing federal  


           The department's concerns  .  The author's office and the  
          department have sought to reach an agreement to address and  
          satisfy the department's concerns.  The committee may wish to  
          make technical and substantive changes to the bill to reflect  
          these negotiations (Amendment 1).  The applicable federal shot  
          regulations referenced in this amendment are found in Title 50  
          of the Code of Federal Regulations section 20.134 (50 CFR  
          20.134) (nontoxic shot) and 50 CFR 20.21 (j) (allowable shot  

           The scientific basis for limiting the use of lead ammunition for  
          hunting  .  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 estimate a 64% reduction in lead  
          poisoning deaths of surveyed mallard ducks and a 78% decline in  
          lead pellet ingestion.  The study's conclusions indicated that  
          the restrictions on lead shot have prevented the unnecessary  
          deaths of thousands of waterfowl.  Two recent studies conducted  
          by researchers at the University of California, Davis, also  
          found evidence that the ban on the use of lead ammunition for  
          hunting big game in the California condor range may have  
          provided an ancillary benefit for golden eagles and turkey  
          vultures.  These 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  

          A March 23, 2013 consensus statement signed by 30 distinguished  
          scientists with expertise in lead and environmental health  
          endorsed the overwhelming scientific evidence on the toxic  
          effects of lead on human and wildlife health.  They urged  
          support for the 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.   
          Scientists from several Tier 1 research universities signed the  

          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 in water birds, upland game birds,  
          scavengers and avian predators.  At toxic levels, lead causes a  
          variety of complaints up to and including death to the birds. At  


          lower levels, lead exposures causes a number of sub-lethal  
          effects including reproductive impairment and neurological  
          damage, among others.  Recent work indicates that over 25% of  
          the bald eagles admitted to rehabilitation facilities have  
          elevated blood lead levels.  Current data for raptors and avian  
          scavengers demonstrate positive correlations with lead exposure  
          during hunting seasons.

          Lead can also be life-threatening at high levels as well as  
          damaging at low levels to humans.  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.  Lead poisoning may also  
          be associated with elderly dementia according to the February  
          2013 Scientific America.  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 2009 CDC study conducted in North Dakota  
          found that people who ate wild game had 30 - 50% higher blood  
          lead levels compared to those who did not.  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.  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  

          Committee staff note that lead ammunition is not the only source  
          of lead in the environment, but lead is not known to have any  
          biological benefits and is considered a persistent hazard.  As  
          noted above, efforts have been made to reduce the amount of lead  
          in many products to reduce exposure to lead.

           Are there effective and affordable alternatives to lead  
          ammunition  ?  The availability of alternatives to lead ammunition  
          have expanded and prices have become more competitive since the  
          1991 USFWS ban on the use of lead ammunition to take waterfowl  
          and additional restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in  
          different states have come into force.  The most commonly used  
          alternatives are copper or copper alloy bullets.  A recent  
          survey in Ambio found that ready product availability,  
          comparable prices and effectiveness of nonlead alternatives make  
          the phase-out of lead ammunition feasible world-wide.  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.  Over 37 different manufacturers make  
          hunting cartridges using nonlead bullets provided by  
          manufacturers located in the United States (e.g. Barnes Bullet,  
          LLC) and others.  Prices are comparable - a box of lead-free  
          cartridges is $30 - $33 and a box of lead ones are $26 - $37 for  
          a 0.243 Winchester.  Additionally, the survey found that  
          virtually all lead bullet calibers used for hunting are  
          available in nonlead versions, as are the hunting cartridges  
          themselves.  Online commercial availability has also increased  
          with 48 different hunting rifle cartridges with lead-free  
          bullets available via online retailers.

           Does hunting decline where nonlead ammunition is required  ?  The  
          enactment of the requirement to use nonlead ammunition in the  
          California condor range has not led to a reduction in the number  
          of hunters in California.  According to department data, hunting  
          tag sales for deer hunting in California since the nonlead  
          ammunition requirements took effect in 2008 have not declined.   
          Prior to the ban in 2007, 26,104 deer tags were sold and 27,453  
          were sold in 2011.

           An ATF ban on ammunition  ?  Some opponents argue that nonlead  
          ammunition could be banned by the federal Bureau of Alcohol,  
          Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as armor piercing  
          ammunition.  The ATF can grant a waiver if the ammunition is  
          primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, such as  
          hunting.  However, the ATF has not yet officially acted to grant  
          any waivers, although information provided by the bill's sponsor  
          indicate numerous waivers are pending.  The ATF has not ruled  
          that any existing nonlead hunting ammunition products already in  
          use are illegal, but 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.  Supporters argue that the ATF has made no effort  
          to date to restrict or prohibit the sale of any nonlead rifle  
          ammunition used by hunters, and that the two year phase-in  
          period allows ample time for a resolution to this issue to be  

           Related legislation
           AB 2223 (Nava, 2010).  This bill would have banned the use of  
          lead shot while taking migratory game birds, resident small game  
          or non-game species in a wildlife management area (failed before  
          the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.)



          AB 821 (Nava, c. 520, Statutes of 2007).  This bill is the  
          Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act and established a ban on the  
          use of lead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition when taking  
          big game and coyote within the range of the California Condor,  
          among other provisions.


               AMENDMENT 1  
               On page 3, insert between lines 33 and 34:

               "(i) Given the deleterious impacts of lead ammunition, a  
               requirements for use of nonlead ammunition shall be  
               implemented as soon as practicable in California.  The Fish  
               and Game Commission shall implement the requirement for the  
               use of nonlead ammunition incrementally, if practicable, to  
               provide for increasing protection from lead exposure until  
               full compliance with the nonlead ammunition requirement is  

               On page 4, line 1, delete the existing line and replace  

               "(b) The commission shall maintain by"

               On page 4, insert between lines 6 and 7:

               "(c) The list of certified ammunition shall include, but  
               not be limited to, any federally approved non-toxic shotgun  

               On page 4, line 7, replace "(c)" with "(d)"

               On page 4, line 28, replace "(d)" with "(e)"

               On page 4, line 32, replace "(e)" with "(f)"

               On page 4, line 34, replace "(f)" with "(g)"

               On page 5, line 1, replace "(g)" with "(h)"

               On page 5, line 4, replace "(h)" with "(i)" and add "2015"  
          following the comma

               On page 5, line 5, delete "2014"

               On page 5, line 7, delete "2016." and replace with:


               "2018. If any of the requirements of this section can be  
               implemented practicably, in whole or in part, in advance of  
               July 1, 2018, the commission shall implement those  

          The Humane Society of the United States (co-sponsor)
          Defenders of Wildlife (co-sponsor)
          Audubon California (co-sponsor)
          Action for Animals
          Alameda Creek Alliance
          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
          American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
          Animal Welfare Institute
          Born Free USA
          California Coastal Protection Network
          California for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE)
          California Wolf Center
          Cape Wildlife Center
          Center for Biological Diversity
          Center for Biological Diversity
          Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation
          Children Now
          City of Oakland
          Clean Water Action
          Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care
          Endangered Habitats League
          Environment California
          Environmental Action Committee of West Marin
          Environmental Defense Center
          Environmental Protection Information Center
          Environmental Working Group
          Forests Forever
          Friends of Five Creeks
          Friends of the Eel River
          Green Cities California
          Helping Our Peninsula's Environment
          Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
          Injured & Orphaned Wildlife
          Klamath Forest Alliance 
          Klamath Forest Alliance
          Los Angeles County Democratic Party
          Los Padres Forest Watch
          Marin County Board of Supervisors
          MOMS Advocating Sustainability
          Northcoast Environmental Center


          Northern California Council Federation of Fly Fishers
          PAW PAC
          Preserve Lamorinda Open Space
          Project Coyote
          Protecting Earth & Animals with Compassion & Education (PEACE)
          Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, California
          Public Interest Coalition
          Rainforest Action Network
          Raptors are the Solution
          Regional Parks Association
          Salmon Protection And Watershed Network
          San Fernando Valley Audubon Society 
          Santa Clara County Activists for Animals
          Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society 
          Santa Cruz SPCA
          Save the Frogs
          Sierra Club California
          Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition  
          Social Compassion in Legislation
          Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
          State Humane Association of California 
          Stewards of the Earth
          Strawberry Creek Watershed Council
          Tehama Wild Care
          The Nature Conservancy
          The Paw Project
          Try-City Ecology Center
          Turtle Island Restoration Network
          Ventana Wilderness Alliance
          Wild Equity Institute
          Numerous individuals, including self-identified hunters

          Animal Pest Management Services, Inc
          Board of Supervisors County of Madera
          Boone & Crockett Club
          California Association of Federal Firearms Licenses 
          California Association of Firearms Retailers 
          California Outdoor Heritage Alliance
                                                                        California Rifle & Pistol Association
          California Sportsman's Lobby 


          Campfire Club of America
          Catch a Dream Foundation
          Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
          Conservation Force
          County of Lake Board of Supervisors
          Crossroads of the West
          Delta Waterfowl
          Ducks Unlimited
          Masters of Foxhounds Foundation
          Mishewal-Wappo Tribe Alexander Valley
          Mule Deer Foundation
          National Rifle Association
          National Shooting Sports Foundation
          National Trappers Association
          National Wild Turkey Federation
          North American Bear Foundation
          Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of California 
          Pope & Young Club
          Quality Deer Management Association
          Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
          Ruffled Grouse Society
          Safari Club International
          U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance
          Whitetails Unlimited
          Wild Sheep Foundation
          Wildlife Forever
          Wildlife Management Institute
          Numerous individuals