Starting July 1, 2016, nonlead shot will be required when taking upland game birds with a shotgun in California, except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game birds taken at licensed game bird clubs. In addition, nonlead shot will be required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds and any wildlife for depredation purposes.
Existing restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in the California condor range, when taking Nelson bighorn sheep and when hunting on all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wildlife areas and ecological reserves remain in effect.
The next phase of the implementation goes into effect July 1, 2019, when hunters must use nonlead ammunition when taking any animal anywhere in the state for any purpose. There are no restrictions on the use of lead ammunition for target shooting purposes.
Nonlead ammunition for some firearm calibers may be in short supply so hunters should plan accordingly. Hunters are encouraged to practice shooting nonlead ammunition to make sure firearms are sighted-in properly and shoot accurately with nonlead ammunition.
In October 2013, Assembly Bill 711 was signed into law requiring the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting anywhere in the state by July 1, 2019. The law also required an implementation plan designed to impose the least burden on California’s hunters while adhering to the intent of the law.
In order to determine what was least disruptive to hunters, CDFW coordinated question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, held meetings with hunting organizations, and hosted a series of eight public workshops throughout the state. Incorporating the public input from these workshops, CDFW then presented draft regulations to the Fish and Game Commission.
In April 2015, the Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW’s proposed regulations and implementation plan.
More information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.
Craig Stowers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3553
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982