Nonlead ammunition will be required when hunting on all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands and for all Nelson bighorn sheep hunts anywhere in the state starting July 1.
Hunters are also encouraged to practice shooting nonlead ammunition to make sure firearms are sighted-in properly and shoot accurately with nonlead ammunition. The CDFW noted that nonlead ammunition for some firearm calibers may be in short supply.
The California Fish and Game Commission held 14 public meetings in 12 cities from Eureka to San Diego to gain comments from hunters on how best to implement Assembly Bill 711, the legislation that requires nonlead ammunition for all hunting statewide by July 1, 2019.
The commission then adopted an implementation plan for phasing out lead ammunition for hunting in California by July 1, 2016, when hunters must use nonlead ammunition when hunting with shotguns for upland game birds, small game mammals, fur-bearing mammals and nongame birds except for when hunting at licensed game bird clubs.
Nonlead ammunition will also be required when taking wildlife for depredation purposes anywhere in the state.
Starting on July 1, 2019 hunters must use nonlead ammunition when taking any animal anywhere in the state for any purpose.
Lead ammunition may still be used for all non-hunting purposes including target shooting. The implementation of AB 711 does not affect the laws regarding the existing nonlead "Condor Zone" where it remains illegal to hunt using lead ammunition.
For those areas in CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves where hunting is allowed, nonlead ammunition will be required starting July 1, 2015.
A list of CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves along with specific regulations for each can be found in the booklet, Hunting Regulations for Waterfowl, Upland Game and Department Lands Public Use at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=88820&inline.
Information on certified nonlead ammunition can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/lead-free/certifiedammo.html.
More information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/lead-free/