In a victory for hunters and sport shooters, on August 8, the California Fish and Game Commission rejected a proposal to expand the existing ban on the use of lead ammunition that applies to hunting in certain parts of California. The proposal would have expanded the existing ban on the use of lead ammunition, now applicable only in the limited “Condor Zone” created by AB 821, to also include State Wildlife Areas, Ecological Reserves, and depredation hunts.
Ammunition ban proponents urged the Commissioners to put the proposed expansion out “to notice” for official public comment, a prerequisite step toward getting it formally adopted. Their arguments are based on recent publications created by researchers at UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz. National Rifle Association and California Rifle and Pistol Association representatives, scientists, and lawyers opposed the proposal. Their presentations are available online.
Specifically, two recent studies published by UC Davis researchers Terra R. Kelly and Christine K. Johnson purport to show that golden eagles and turkey vultures have significantly higher blood-lead levels during hunting season, in comparison to the off-season, and that lead exposure in both species declined significantly after the implementation of the AB 821 lead ammunition ban. But the UC Davis researchers’ methodology behind their publications was so flawed that their conclusions are unreliable.