The California Legislature is on the verge of passing a bill banning the use of traditional ammunition – bullets containing lead – for hunting statewide.
The justification for the ban is that the giant, endangered carrion eater, the California Condor, is seriously threatened by lead poisoning from ingesting bullet fragments in game animals. Proponents of the ban say that hunters leave carcasses or gut piles containing lead fragments in the field where the birds consume it, causing them to become sick and die. Even though research into the problem was extremely sketchy, in 2007, the California Legislature bypassed the scientific review process of the state’s Fish and Game Commission, and instituted a ban on the use of common, lead-based bullets in areas where the condors live and feed.
The ban failed to get results. Even though 99 percent of California hunters complied with the ban, lead levels in condors actually went up over the subsequent five years. In response to this failure, rather than investigating other possible sources for the lead poisoning, the groups that demanded the lead bullet ban in 2007 have again bypassed the Fish and Game Commission, again refused to produce credible scientific evidence and research, and again gone directly to the Legislature to get the lead bullet ban expanded statewide.