Due to efforts by environmental organizations, a bill was introduced in California on Monday that could prohibit lead ammunition statewide.
According to the Associated Press, the bill is sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon California, and the Humane Society of the United States. The organizations argue that ammunition containing lead threatens species like the bald eagle, California condor, and turkey vultures due to the ammo’s toxic nature.
When these birds eat animals shot with lead ammunition, the bullet acts as a neurotoxin. In humans lead can cause gradual brain damage, but the effects in smaller animals can be more severe. Studies by several Californian universities state that bird poisoning is at its highest during hunting seasons, but some say those studies are flawed. The National Rifle Association and other opponents of the ban cite eight counties which already prohibit lead bullets but see no drop in lead-based bird deaths.
In many cases, non-lead based ammunition can be more expensive, further exacerbating the price hike for ammo–if it can be found at all. Solid copper ammunition is now produced by a number of companies including Hornady, Remington, Federal, and Winchester across a variety of calibers. Supporters of the lead ban say that prices for these types of ammo will drop when more sportsmen purchase them.
A subcommittee of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was debating the issue when the bill appeared.
“The commission has looked at the lead issue for years,” said commission president Michael Sutton. “Should we ban it on state lands, ecological areas and preserves? For all hunting statewide? I’m not going to hazard a guess as to what the commission will do.”