California AB 2223 is legislation introduced by Assemblyman Pedro Nava that would require the use of non-lead shot for game birds and small mammals in California's wildlife management areas.
Although WildCare opposes sport hunting in any form, this legislation is a vital step in protecting California's wildlife from the devastating effects of lead poisoning and is an important stepping stone in the enforcement of the highest standards in the management of these important wildlife habitats.
This bill would provide protection from lead poisoning for migratory game birds, resident small game and nongame species in the more than 627,000 acres encompassed by the California system of state wildlife areas. Currently lead shot is banned by federal law in national parks and for the hunting of waterfowl. A recent ban also prohibited the use of lead ammunition in the habitat of the endangered California Condor.
The effects of lead ammunition on wildlife are well-documented and scientifically validated, despite the contention of the NRA.
Interestingly, in the context of this bill, the effects of lead on Mourning Doves has attracted particular attention. Small birds like Mourning Doves collect hard objects for their gizzards and apparently lead pellets are a good choice if you're a dove. Lead poisoning can cause weakness, regurgitation and vomiting, anorexia and head tilt, followed by ataxia, blindness and eventually death.
Prey species like Mourning Doves suffer this fate, as do the predatory birds like Peregrine Falcons that prey on them and Golden Eagles that also eat lead-poisoned prey. Scavengers like the highly endangered California Condor ingest lead from lead-shot kills left by hunters. Lead poisoning has been one of the main causes of condor population decline.
The bill, which would go into effect in July 2011, would "prohibit the possession or use of any shotgun shell loaded with anything other than nontoxic shot, as defined, when taking migratory game birds, resident small game, or nongame species under the authority of a hunting license within a wildlife management area. Under the bill, a person who violates that prohibition would be guilty of an infraction punishable by a $500 fine for the first offense."
Click to read a synopsis of the entire bill and its provisions.
Non-toxic ammunition is available and inexpensive, so this legislation won't adversely affect hunters but will make a huge difference to wildlife.