As a reminder to anyone hunting in California this year, the state’s full lead ammunition ban will take effect July 1. California’s lead ammo ban, which was officially signed as a new law in 2013, required the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to gradually build up to a full prohibition.
As of July 1, the ban will be in full effect state-wide.
The ban prohibits the use of lead projectiles and applies to all hunting (including public and private land), all wildlife (game birds, non-game birds and mammals) and all firearms (rifles, shotguns, pistols and muzzleloaders) “in any gauge or caliber for the take of any legal species,” according to the CDFW.
The use of lead ammunition will still be allowed for target shooting, as long as the ammo is being shot in an area where lead is not otherwise restricted. The ban also won’t require non-lead ammunition for pellet guns or personal protection guns.
However, even those who are hunting for depredation purposes to dispatch wildlife destroying property or livestock will need to use lead-free ammo.
While the ban was born originated from research into poisoning of the endangered California condor, a full lead-free switch can and will be costly for the average hunter.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) took a look at the possible effects of requiring anyone who hunts in California to make the lead-free switch, and determined it would mean substantially higher costs. Centerfire ammo would jump 284%, rimfire would increase 294%, and lead-free shotgun ammo could see a 387% spike.
Altogether, the ban and attendant costs could be enough to reduce hunting by 36%, the NSSF concluded.
At least 30 states restrict lead bullets and shot in certain state wildlife areas and ecological reserves, but California will be the first to ban lead statewide. The US Fish and Wildlife Service banned lead shot for waterfowl hunting over a quarter century ago.
The first hunting seasons in California to be affected will be the general rabbit season, which opens statewide July 1, and the A Zone general deer season, which opens Aug. 10 along much of the coast.