California condor (courtesy csmonitor.com)

That’s my take away from this not entirely short press release from Hunt for Truth (after the jump): if the state bans traditional lead ammo and the ATF insists that non-traditional ammo is no-no (armor-piercing and all that), California hunters will be SOL. That would be a disaster. Remember when your history teacher told you that environmentally insensitive white guys slaughtered millions of buffalo out West? Before the white guys arrived, disease had more-or-less wiped out the native American population. When the natives stopped hunting (’cause they were dead), the buffalo population exploded. Removing hunters from the California eco-system might not have such catastrophic effects. But it might. Banning ammo to “save the condors” could screw-up the whole shooting match. So to speak. Now, truth vs. fiction . . .

[The following is a press release found via Ammoland]

The following is an excerpt of The Audubon Society’s “Facts Sheet” recently published in support of AB 711, and the Hunt for Truth’s response to “Their” alleged facts.

Their “Myth” – The 2007 ban on the use of lead ammunition in the range of the California condor hasn’t worked, despite high levels of compliance among hunters.

Their “Fact” – The situation for condors and other wildlife species has improved because of the ban. A recent study by researchers at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center found that lead exposure in both Golden Eagles and Turkey Vultures declined significantly after the condor ban was implemented.

The Truth: Blood-lead levels in California condors have not declined for within the “condor zone” because condors are being significantly exposed to alternative sources of bioavailable lead, including documented evidence of lead paint chip and lead-contaminated microtrash ingestion.  The AB 821 lead ammunition ban (the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act) has done nothing to prevent the alternative sources of lead in the condor zone.

Their “Fact” – Condors continue to suffer because it only takes a small amount of lead in the environment to do a great deal of damage. One contaminated carcass can easily jeopardize six or more condors feeding on the same carcass.

The Truth: The paper by researchers at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center was fatally flawed.  The authors attempted to compare blood-lead levels in golden eagles and turkey vultures before and after the AB 821 lead ammunition ban.  However, 70% of the authors’ blood-lead tests were taken after a lead ammunition ban was put into place at Tejon Ranch, but those samples were characterized as pre AB 821 lead ban blood-lead tests. Despite the flaw, this paper is still cited and is a prime example of the faulty science used by self-proclaimed environmentalists.

Their “Fact” – While preliminary studies of condors in its California range from 2008 indicate that lead levels are declining, a more comprehensive study completed in 2012 by UC Santa Cruz researchers found that condors continue to be exposed to deadly levels of lead.

The Truth: Several scientific studies have shown that it is extremely difficult to poison raptors with metallic lead, even with constant forced feeding of large amounts of metallic lead shot with food over extended periods of time. In contrast, it is quite easy to poison raptors and other wildlife when they exposed to an alternative source of soluble lead such as lead paint chips and other lead-contaminated microtrash.

Their “Fact” – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported high levels of compliance a year after the 2007 law went into effect, but further reports from the field unfortunately call that result into question. With fewer than 200 wardens patrolling the entire state at any given time, compliance with the law from both lawful hunting and unregulated activities due to poaching is difficult to measure.

The Truth: A paper published by The Wildlife Society found that lead ammunition fragments in game carcasses were not a source of lead exposure or poisoning in large carnivores and concluded that hunting season has no effect on the blood-lead levels in large carnivores. In addition, the study’s data indicate a continuous, year-round alternative source.

Their “Myth” – Non-lead bullets cost twice as much as lead bullets, and aren’t nearly as accurate.

Their “Fact” – A recent comprehensive review of the market for non-lead ammunition concluded that “there is no major difference in the retail price of equivalent lead-free and lead-core ammunition for most popular calibers.”

The Truth: The price of non-lead ammunition has dropped, but it still costs more than lead-based ammunition, up to 30% more. Additionally, the ultimate cost is the unknown effects on wildlife that come from using alternative ammunition such as copper, which has been shown to be toxic, and tungsten, which has been shown to be a carcinogen.  In general, alternative ammunition metals are known to have harmful effects on wildlife, and are likely to cause many new problems if lead is no longer available.

Their “Fact” – The researcher found that “lead-free ammunition has set benchmark standards for accuracy, lethality, and safety. Lead-free bullets are made in 35 different calibers and 51 rifle cartridge designations. Thirty-seven companies distribute internationally ammunition made with lead free bullets.

Their “Fact” – Never before has non-lead ammunition been so affordable and the price continues to decline.

The Truth: The availability of non-lead ammunition in different calibers is questionable at best, and there are still many calibers that are not available.  Even if the caliber is being made and marketed, hunters are still reportedly having a difficult time finding and purchasing the ammunition. 

Their “Myth” – There is no evidence that poisoned birds got the lead from ammo/gut piles. Lead could be coming from other sources.

Their “Fact” – The UC Davis Wildlife Health Center study showed that blood lead concentration in turkey vultures was significantly higher during the deer hunting season compared to the off-season, and blood lead concentration also increased with increasing intensity of wild pig hunting at study sites.

The Truth: Most of the condors’ diet is cattle carcasses from nearby ranches, not hunters’ gut piles. Cattle are very prone to lead poisoning. Feeding on lead-poisoned cattle is more dangerous than feeding on lead ammunition because the lead in the cattle is more bioavailable than the lead in ammunition.

Their “Fact” – The UC Santa Cruz researchers definitively identified the isotopic fingerprint of lead from ammunition and associated it with the source of exposure and poisoning in condors.

The Truth: The UC Davis Wildlife Health Center study regarding turkey vultures is fatally flawed.  The authors did not properly assess the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s hunter’s take data, which was integral to their conclusions. Even with the flawed assumptions, methodologies and conclusions by the UC Davis researchers, self-proclaimed environmentalists still cite the paper, despite the faulty science.

The Truth: The UC Santa Cruz researchers claimed that they identified the lead source of exposure and poisoning in condors using an isotopic compositional analysis. The truth is that isotopic compositional analysis cannot be used to positively identify a single source of lead from commercially available ammunition.

Their “Myth” – Non-lead ammunition is not as accurate or effective as lead ammunition.

Their “Fact” – It is the effectiveness of non-lead ammunition that first ignited interested in alternatives to lead. Safari Club International was the first to sing non-lead ammunition’s praises during safari hunts in Africa. Many hunters are voluntarily changing ammunition type
because of the improved “knock down” power and accuracy of non-lead ammunition.

The Truth: Because most alternative metals are less dense than lead, they lose energy and velocity in flight faster than lead and retain less down-range energy. For rifle ammunition, alternative metals are able to offer similar performance to lead at close range, but the generally lower density of non-lead alternatives undermines their ballistic performance above 100-150 yards and makes lead a superior ammunition for long-range targets. In addition, bullets used for large game mammals during safari hunts in Africa are generally of solid construction, not the expanding design usually approved for taking big game in North America. Lead ammunition also provides superior terminal performance and a more humane kill, as harder alternative ammunition can allow game to escape and remain in the field to die.

Their “Fact” – A 2006 survey by the Arizona Game and Fish Department found that hunters overwhelmingly approved of both the accuracy and performance of non-lead ammunition compared to their experience with lead.

The TruthBullets used for large game mammals during safari hunts in Africa cannot be compared to the bullets used for taking big game in North America. The bullets used in safari hunts are generally of solid construction while the bullets used in North America are designed to expand. Comparing the two different types of bullets is like comparing apples with oranges.

Their “Myth” – Federal law preempts any lead ammunition limits because of the body armor piercing issue.

Their “Fact” – This is just the latest red herring generated by the manufacturing industry intended only to slow the progress of lead ammunition abatement policy. The industry’s claims are especially dubious given that they continue to manufacture and sell non-lead ammunition for sporting purposes, despite their alleged legal concerns.

Their “Fact” – The federal law banning armor piercing ammunition has been on the books since 1968 and contains a specific exemption for “sporting purposes.” The law has never been interpreted as prohibiting ammunition for hunting purposes, and ATF has made no effort to interfere with either the longstanding federal waterfowl ban on lead ammunition or California’s recent condor habitat ban.

The Truth: The ATF has made a determination that non-lead ammunition for rifles and handguns meets the tests for armor piercing ammunition, because of its chemical composition.  Add in the fact that various makes and models of handguns exist that can shoot virtually all of the alternative ammunition. Thus, it is illegal under both state and federal laws to use or possess such armor piercing ammunition. To date, ATF has not granted any waivers for alternative ammunition under the “sporting purpose” exemption.

Their “Myth” – Alternatives to lead ammunition are also highly toxic and problematic for the environment.

Their “Fact” – While non-lead ammunition does contain substances that can be considered toxic under some circumstances, there is absolutely no evidence that these materials pose anything close the environmental threat that lead ammunition presents.

The Truth: Alternative ammunition containing bismuth, tungsten, copper, and jacketed steel have all raised various concerns among conservationists. Recent studies show that bismuth has been found to leach into the soil and groundwater and interfere with soil bacteria. Other studies demonstrate that tungsten, which is transformed to a soluble form by oxidation, can accumulate in the spleen of wildlife and possibly cause immune system disorders. Even copper has been shown to be toxic under certain circumstances, and has been found to be the primary cause of mortality in certain condors exposed to copper fragments and microtrash containing copper.

The Truth: Lead ammunition from the Civil War has been in the field for over a century with no negative environmental impact. Minie balls found on 150 year-old battlefields retain most of their shape and mass because metallic lead is not very soluble and does not tend to migrate.  In other words, lead ammunition does not tend to dissolve and wash away in surface or ground water and is not the threat that environmentalists claim.

Their “Myth” – This campaign is a thinly disguised effort to limit hunting.

Their “Fact” – As noted above, hunters have been shifting toward non-lead ammunition for both technical and conservation reasons for years.

The Truth: AB 711 is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.  Nearly two decades ago, the present Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle stated, “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.”

Their “Fact” – A 1991 federal ban on the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl had little impact on the number of hunting licenses issued in California, and subsequently enabled the resurgence of many populations of ducks, geese, and other species being killed off by poisoning from lead shot.

Their “Fact” – The 2007 requirement of non-lead ammunition in the condor range did not reduce the number of deer tags issued.

Their “Fact” – Condors and eagles benefit from animal remains left over from hunting if lead contamination is not a factor. Hunting can actually be a conservation benefit by increasing available food supplies for scavenging species.

The Truth: Hunting is Conservation. There are many conservation benefits of hunting. The population of elk, whitetails, ducks, wild turkeys, and pronghorns has increased dramatically thanks to the money and hard work by hunters to restore and conserve habitat. Additionally, the tax hunters pay for their equipment has raised more than $2 billion for wildlife conservation, which comes to about $280 million per year. Most important, hunting is a wildlife management tool that helps balance wildlife populations with its habitat, which in turn limits property damage (e.g., crops) and curtails outbreaks of disease.

Their “Myth” – This campaign is taking advantage of current anti-gun sentiment.

Their “Fact” – Each of the sponsoring organizations supported the use of non-lead ammunition long before the recent political push for gun control legislation.

The Truth: There is no dispute that the sponsors of this bill have been pushing for a lead ammunition ban for many years, but they are using the current anti-gun sentiment and tried and true scare tactics to push their “get the lead out” campaign.  These anti-lead ammunition groups seized the opportunity despite the California Fish and Game Commission’s urging to “allow us the opportunity to try to make this work before you go to the legislature and get a bill going. That’s what rushed it through the last time. Give us an opportunity [to address this issue] first.”

Their “Fact” – Audubon’s founder first extolled the risks from lead ammunition in 1894, and Audubon was the primary sponsor of the 2007 legislation.

The Truth: The California Fish and Game Commission set up a working committee to investigate both sides of the lead ammunition debate, and to make an informed decision based on the facts and sound science. But before the working committee even started, the lead ammunition ban proponents disregarded the Commission’s admonishment, circumvented the Commission’s committee process, and convinced an assembly member to introduce AB 711 in the legislature, where the science will not be scrutinized.

Their “Myth” – This law would place an undue burden on all gun owners.

Their “Fact” – Assembly Bill 711 only creates a requirement for non-lead ammunition for hunting in California.

Their “Fact” – This excludes law enforcement, home security, target shooting, and other non-hunting uses.

The Truth: The undue burden on all firearms owners is based on the limited availability and the higher cost of non-lead ammunition. The cost of non-lead ammunition is up to 30% higher than traditional lead-based ammunition and non-lead ammunition is not available in all calibers. With the ATF’s determination that non-lead ammunition for rifles and pistols meets the test for armor piercing ammunition due to its chemical composition, if AB 711 is passed hunters may not be able to hunt because there will be no legal ammunition for hunting in California.

HuntforTruth.org
The Hunt for Truth and like-minded wildlife and natural resource conservation groups continue to review various regulatory threats to traditional hunting and shooting sports. Where the science leads to a wise management conclusion, we support wildlife managers in their efforts to conserve our natural and wildlife resources. But where the science is faulty, politically biased, distorted or unsupportable, we continue to work tirelessly to expose the truth. Visit: www.HuntforTruth.org

50 Responses to AB 711 Could Kill Hunting in California

  1. The Truth:

    Over 90% of all species that have ever lived on the earth are already extinct.

    We white guys didn’t kill them all.

    • Who said we/they did? This is tantamount to saying, “contrary to popular opinion, Venutians did not found the state of California.”
      Straw man argument. Try something reasonable.

      • The point being: Species have been going extinct for a long, long time.

        The Condor is just trying to go extinct. Why should we be standing in it’s way? It wants to go extinct. It’s proven itself to not be adaptable. Quit interfering with nature. Let it go.

  2. Fine, I’ll be forced to poach then. I’m tired of everything I hold near and dear being marginalized by people who don’t know shit. I’m tired of following every screwy law they pass in Sacramento but little laws like being here legally, driving with a license and Insurance get pushed to the side to account for the sensitivities of people here illegally. The state and cities want to piecemeal enforce laws? Just fine I’ll pick and choose which laws I will abide by.

  3. “With the ATF’s determination that non-lead ammunition for rifles and pistols meets the test for armor piercing ammunition due to its chemical composition”

    It depends on the composition. Most are pure copper and that is not AP. Honestly, the whole AP thing is inconsistently enforced. There are commercially available cartridges in 5.56 (as well as others) that are compsed of steel and other no no elements. Not a problem for rifles but for pistols it is . . . and there are many commercially available pistols chambered in 5.56 – as well as other calibers.

    • Safari Club International was the first to sing non-lead ammunition’s praises during safari hunts in Africa.

      My experience was that they touted the Speer African Grand Slam as the ultimate solid stopper for Cape Buffalo. It had a tungsten-carbide core, and so was pulled from the market. Not singing praises so loudly now.

  4. In future articles, unless your plan is to beat your opposition into submission with a wall-o-text, I’d recommend a short summary of the data to-be-explained be included prior to launching into a point-by-point. After the point-by-point you should touch on the major points again in a second brief, closing summary. If you want people to read through and then retain what you’re trying to explain, you should tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.

    The above post is very heavy sledding. That leads to “tl;dr” behavior and not being able to martial the presented arguments to persuade further acquaintances.

  5. PLEASE CITE EVIDENCE for this bogus “Bison already dead” malarkey! So the settlers bought their pelts from WHERE, CABELA’S?

  6. Their “Fact” – The UC Santa Cruz researchers definitively identified the isotopic fingerprint of lead from ammunition and associated it with the source of exposure and poisoning in condors.
    God I hate pseudoscience. This ridiculous statement is being pushed by a guy named Church. That is utter poppycock. That isotopic technique works fine when isolating the single source of lead poisoning in a fixed environment, like a home. Little Johnny has elevated lead levels and the isotope signature matches the paint on his crib. But there is no way it would apply to world of ammunition. Ammunition manufactures use industrial lead ingots in their process. All of the sources for these ingots use as much as 100% recycled lead. So, every batch of ingots would have its own distinct isotopic signature. So, unless They are saying that discerning condors will only consume Winchester White Box, lot BB2756 – I call bull shit.
    Lead is not even close to the leading cause of mortality for these birds. Windmills, electric lines and vehicles destroy most of these animals. I don’t hear anyone calling for a ban on these.

    We have no idea what the natural, background level of lead is in the blood steam of a free range condor, primarily because there is no such thing as a free range condor. For all we know, our breeding effort has produced a bird that sucks up environmental lead like a vacuum cleaner and is addicted to chelation.

    The real damage that man did to the condor took place when John Muir was actually running the Sierra Club and human pouching managed to all but wipe the last Gymnogyps from existence. What we have now are the gene pool-deficient ancestors of the last 27 birds that were all captured and taken into captivity in 1987. We are so zealous about the current 220 “wild” birds that we recapture them on a regular basis just to poke, prod, suck blood and pull feathers from them – nice “wild” existence. In short, the remaining population is a flock of mealy-mouthed, inbreed, shadows of what condors used to be.

    In 2008, the Governator signed a lead ammo ban in the California range of the condor. 4 years later there is no appreciable decrease in the blood-lead levels in birds in that range (which are recaptured on a regular basis just to be poked, prodded, blood sucked and feathers pulled – nice “wild” existence). Because that didn’t work they now want to increase the range of the ban, and also ban lead shoot from the larger area (sound like the tactics of any other groups mentioned on this form?)

  7. Lead is not even close to the leading cause of mortality for these birds. Windmills, electric lines and vehicles destroy most of these animals. I don’t hear anyone calling for a ban on these.

    We have no idea what the natural, background level of lead is in the blood steam of a free range condor, primarily because there is no such thing as a free range condor. For all we know, our breeding effort has produced a bird that sucks up environmental lead like a vacuum cleaner and is addicted to chelation.

    The real damage that man did to the condor took place when John Muir was actually running the Sierra Club and human pouching managed to all but wipe the last Gymnogyps from existence. What we have now are the gene pool-deficient ancestors of the last 27 birds that were all captured and taken into captivity in 1987. We are so zealous about the current 220 “wild” birds that we recapture them on a regular basis just to poke, prod, suck blood and pull feathers from them – nice “wild” existence. In short, the remaining population is a flock of mealy-mouthed, inbreed, shadows of what condors used to be.

    In 2008, the Governator signed a lead ammo ban in the California range of the condor. 4 years later there is no appreciable decrease in the blood-lead levels in birds in that range (which are recaptured on a regular basis just to be poked, prodded, blood sucked and feathers pulled – nice “wild” existence). Because that didn’t work they now want to increase the range of the ban, and also ban lead shoot from the larger area (sound like the tactics of any other groups mentioned on this form?)

    • All well put. The wild turkeys on some Nor Cal property I own are cute (in their ugly way), but they are chowing down on my grape crop — which is already pretty limited.

      In the other direction, some feral pigs are roto-tilling my parents rural acreage. They are very destructive. Killing them would be a public service.

    • I’ll accept your analysis; the wording doesn’t seem to make it clear. It’s too much to digest, frankly.

  8. If you think that AB711 is the greatest of our worries here in CA, then you haven’t been paying much attention. Try SB47, SB53, SB293, SB374, SB396, SB567, AB48, AB187, AB500, and AB760.

    Those are only some of the 29 gun control bills sliming their way through our legislature. If just the ones I listed pass, then they will:
    -tax ammo like cigarettes
    -make all handguns illegal
    -make magazines nearly impossible to obtain
    -outlaw 90%+ of semi-automatic rifles, including the Ruger 10/22
    -require fingerprints, background checks, and a FFL for ammo transfer (a father giving ammo to his son would be a felon)

    And most (if not all) of these bills are going to be passed into law by the braindead elected officials in Sacramanto. Gov. Brown has said that he wants to expand gun laws in CA to be #1 in the nation. It really is a race to the bottom.

  9. If they ban hunting the state should re-introduce the Grizzly Bear and the Dire Wolf (to keep the cougar population in check[call back to the Fienstein scrotum comments])

  10. What on earth do these lawmakers do in their spare time? They seem to do everything in their power to ban things people find enjoyable, so what do they consider appropriate leisure activity?

  11. Just because it’s California don’t think that the EPA doesn’t have a
    hand in this too. The EPA has its own full playbook of utter
    craziness and nonsense. For instance, while looking at a bid for
    rebuilding a firing range I saw first hand some of the insanity. Told
    that the lead filled dirt would have to be disposed of, I asked about
    dumping it at an active lead mine. The EPA then ruled that this
    would be considered pollution and I would need to haul the dirt
    to a superfund site 500 miles away to an area that has no natural
    lead deposits. If this works in CA, the EPA will be right there to
    try making federal version for all “threatened” species. It also
    may make a good end-around for all the failed anit-gun bills.

  12. The worst part with the environmentalist groups is that they sue under laws that essentially limit court time (and costs) through quick settlement, and then the bureaucrats pay the litigants (libs, all) for the pleasure, in addition to the settlement amount.

    The Leviathan is totally, completely outta control.

  13. This is a back door gun ban. Will be found unconstitutional should it be taken it court. And it should.

    • Well seeing as there is already a lead ammo ban in force in parts of CA, which has been standing since 2008, and this bill just expands that ban…

      If it hasn’t been taken to court yet, then it probably won’t in the near future. And good luck getting a 2A friendly ruling in a CA court. This could only be won for us at the SCOTUS.

  14. OK, so lead is a no, no. Well, let all of the hunters switch to gold and platinum bullets. Both metals are more dense than lead, they’re malleable, will have better BC’s and they essentially chemically inert. There, problem solved. You’re welcome.

  15. Only thing I have trouble with is the claim “Before the white guys arrived, disease had more-or-less wiped out the native American population,” for it was the white guys who introduced these diseases (not on purpose: the natives just did not have the antibodies to fight off the old-world maladies).

  16. So make it from tin and antimony with a bismuth core.

    Nontoxic. Heavy. Not armor piercing.

    Next?

    • The Game Plan is to overwhelm the system by any and all means necessary.
      This is a war against the American PPL waged by their own Crypto-Commie Govt
      Get used to it, Read about the Soviet Refuseniks, Read Gulag Archipleigo

      • Bismuth is already used in shot shells; this bit is easily sidestepped.

        There are more pressing issues facing us.

  17. Also, pastic-tipped ammo is great for hunting but lousy against armor.

    What’s the problem?

    • Why should we be using non-armor piercing ammo anyways? Why should the .gov armor be protected from the civilians? As long as the government stays in check, they have nothing to worry about.

    • And no, it isn’t because criminals could use armor piercing ammo against the government. When was the last time that any criminal had a real shootout with police? Hollywood shooting? Texas clock tower? If criminals are able to get crippling amounts of fire onto gov/police vehicles or personnel, then they have bigger problems than the type of ammo that is being used.

  18. “Before the white guys arrived, disease had more-or-less wiped out the native American population.”

    Are we re-writing history here? Let’s see, the Sioux, Kiowa, Ute tribes, were doing fine Until the white man showed up. Yes, disease did impact the plains and Western tribes, but did not “wipe them out”. Plus the size of the herds did not “explode”. They were nomadic grazers that covered the great plains of our continent. So, they were “large”‘ to begin with.

  19. That thing should be protected solely because it is the ugliest creature on the planet. How the hell do they think, and convince others, that the miniscule amount of lead released into the environment by bullets left in the remnants of a carcass a hunter leaves behind would have any effect on a large and widespread population of any animal. I find it hard to believe that any single species of animal would be able to find those remnants a sufficient enough part of their diet to have any effect whatsoever. That would be like adding one drop of alcohol to every eight ounce glass of water you drink. It is physically impossible to drink enough to become intoxicated.

  20. Riiiiiight, bc lead bullets are the most dangerous hazard for these birds that are dumb enough to eat delicious lead paint chips. None of the other manmade hazards like pollution, power lines, or habitat destruction are harming these birds, it’s 100% lead bullets doing this. What a bunch of f’in morons.

  21. Ya know, I used to kinda like that bird when I was young and dumb. But, now that I am grown up, and have some respect for the 2nd Amendment, I hate that ugly f***ker. Why? Because, that bird is nothing more than a convenient excuse that the libs in Sacramento use to try to ban hunting in this state.

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