Anthony Armentano, exclusive to Global Animal
The battle in Sacramento to pass Assembly Bill 711, which would ban the use of lead bullets in California, is catching the state’s condors in the crossfire. The Humane Society, Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife, and multiple environmental groups are pushing to make California the first state to ban lead ammunition. The organizations support the adoption of Assembly Bill 711 because lead ammunition is devastating to animal life, especially scavengers like the condor.
When a hunter uses lead ammunition to kill an animal, the bullet fragments upon impact and spreads itself throughout the animal. When scavenger birds, like the bald eagle or California condor, prey on the hunted carcasses, they ingest the bits of lead. And that lead poisoning is often fatal and always destructive to health.
The Condor population is under constant pressure. With only 400 of the birds in existence, preservation of the species remains an extremely delicate operation.
With less than two dozen of these birds alive in 1982, conservationists have done a remarkable job in aiding the species, and they hope to continue with their progress. A partial ban of lead-ammunition exists in parts of the condors’ territory, but poisoned animals are still being found.
“There is no safe level of lead for human consumption,” State Assemblyman, Anthony Rendon, a supporter of the bill, explained.
The bill’s proponents have suggested lead bullet alternatives, like copper bullets, which are already used by hunters.
The ban faces strong opposition from the National Rifle Association. They claim it’s a financial conspiracy since copper bullets cost twice as much as lead bullets (about $40 vs. $20 for 20 bullets) and insinuate they’re being persecuted by anti-gun lobbyists.
Bill supporters continue to rally against the opposition in hopes that people turn their favor toward a lead ban. Many point out the U.S. military has recently shifted to non-lead bullets, and hope hunters will follow in the armed forces’ footsteps.
“This is the kind of issue where hunters should be taking the lead,” State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, Jennifer Fearing, said in response to the issue.
If lead bullets cause environmental devastation, pretty soon hunters will have nothing left to hunt.
On August 13th, Sen. John McCain congratulated the states of Arizona and Utah, who supplied non-lead ammunition to hunters in an effort to preserve the California condor. Even though Sen. McCain doesn’t support the bill banning lead ammunition in California, he agrees the government should suggest voluntary incentive programs encouraging the use of non-lead ammunition.
Bill 711 was purposed back in March, and has received support from a number of State Legislators, public health organizations, and even hunters. Let’s keep the ball rolling—make a call your district representative and let them know where you stand on the issue.