Nonlead ammo required in condor areas, starting July 1

California’s landmark new law requiring the use of nonlead ammunition in the state’s historic condor range takes effect July 1.
The law is intended to protect the habitat of the rare condors, who have been injured by feeding on carcasses that were shot by hunters.

According to the state, different brands and types of certified bullets meeting the nonlead requirements are currently available from eight different companies and come in a variety of calibers and styles.  A list of certified bullets, packaged ammunition and a map of the areas encompassed by the ban are available at
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure hunters have the information they need to follow the law and know which bullets are legal,” said Eric Loft, chief of the Department of Fish and Game’s wildlife branch.

Assembly Bill 821, by Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, was signed into law last October. It bans lead bullets for hunting in historic condor range that encompasses all or portions of 13 central and southern counties and seven different deer-hunting zones. The bill addressed the fact that endangered condors have died from lead poisoning and c

oncluded that lead fragments from hunters’ bullets pose potential risk.

Last December, the California Fish and Game Commission expanded the lead ban to include ammunition from shotguns, muzzle-loading rifles and rimfire firearms. The ban encompasses hunting of deer, bear, wild pig, pronghorn antelope and nongame species like ground squirrels. Lead ammunition was prohibited for taking coyotes in AB 821.

In April, the Commission approved a nonlead certification process for ammunition to be administered by DFG. DFG invited manufacturers to submit bullets for certification and has approved dozens of ammunition types for rifles, muzzleloaders and pistols. More brands and styles are expected to be added to the list as the certification process continues.

DFG’s Enforcement Branch will be contacting hunters in condor range to help ensure compliance with the lead ban. A key provision in the new law prohibits the possession of lead projectiles (bullets) and a firearm capable of firing such projectiles while big game or nongame hunting in historic condor range.

More information, including commonly asked questions, about nonlead issues is available at the DFG Web site at

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