Effective July 1, 2019, hunters in California are required to use certified non-lead ammunition when harvesting any game with a firearm.
In October 2013, AB 711 was signed into law, which applies to hunters on both public and private lands as well as hunters with depredation permits, requiring the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt regulations that phased-in the statute’s non-lead ammunition requirements by July 1, 2019.
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), “All ammunition in a hunter’s possession may be inspected by wildlife officers. In some cases, if a wildlife officer suspects a hunter is in possession of lead ammunition and cannot prove otherwise in the field, he or she may seize a cartridge or bullet for further analysis. Hunters are encouraged to assist in confirming compliance by retaining and carrying in the field ammunition boxes or other packaging.”
Those who violate the lead ammunition ban will be fined up to $500 for a first offense, and no less than $1,000 (up to $5,000) for a second or subsequent offense. Violators also risk losing hunting privileges.
Hunters looking for lead-free ammo options can find a list of certified non-lead ammunition on the CDFW website, though other non-lead ammunition not listed, including handloads or boutique ammunition, can be used as long as it meets the state’s new lead-free requirements. All ammunition manufacturers must go through an application process to have ammo certified for legal use in the state.
For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.