EL CENTRO — The 2018–2019 upland game hunting season closes June 30, which leaves roughly two weeks before lead ammunition will be prohibited from use, forcing the transfer from lead shot to steel shot.
The 2019–2020 upland game hunting season will be the first year the final phases of Assembly Bill 711 are enforced. California hunters should review the new laws and amendments to avoid penalties.
Integration of steel shot was inspired to help protect the California condor. The California Fish and Game Commission modified hunting laws effective July 2018 to prohibit the use of lead projectiles when hunting big game and nongame species in areas designated for the condor.
In October 2013, AB 711 was initiated, requiring the use of nonlead ammunition when hunting any wildlife with a firearm in California, and that required the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt regulations by July 1, 2015. New laws will be fully implemented by next month.
Phase 1: Effective July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition was required when taking Nelson bighorn sheep and all wildlife in state wildlife areas and ecological reservations.
Phase 2: Effective July 1, 2016, nonlead shot was required when taking upland game birds with a shotgun, except for dove, quail, snipe, and any game birds taken in licensed game bird clubs. In addition, a small nonlead shot is required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, fur-bearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds, and any wildlife for depredation purposes.
Phase 3: Effective July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California and lead ammunition will not be permissible in the state.