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Bill Aims to Get Lead Out of Ammo

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Photo: mr.smashy/Flickr/Creative Commons License

A bill that aims to get the lead out of ammunition is being considered by lawmakers in Sacramento. AB711 would phase out the use of lead bullets and shot for all hunting in the Golden State.

According to Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director with The Humane Society of the United States, lead poisoning from ammunition takes an extreme and painful toll on animals, and threatens the integrity of the environment.

"The real objective of the bill is to remove lead and dangerous toxins from the capacity that it now has in ammunition to harm wildlife, humans, and the environment," she said.

Fearing said nationally renowned scientists in the field of lead poisoning released a study earlier this year that concluded lead-based ammunition is likely the greatest, largely unregulated, source of lead knowingly discharged into the environment in the United States.

Opponents say the bill would increase hunting costs and result in lost hunting and tag fees and taxes. Some hunters say non-lead bullets are more expensive and less effective, but Fearing disagrees.

"There was a peer-reviewed published study that came out in AMBIO Journal earlier this year that demonstrated convincingly that there is not a significant difference in either the quality, the effectiveness, or the price of non-lead-based ammunition compared with lead-based ammunition," she asserted.

It's not just wildlife and the environment that are at risk, Fearing said, stating that lead ammunition also has the potential to harm humans who eat the meat of either the targeted animal or the other animals that consume the carcasses of animals that have been killed with lead-containing bullets.

"Again, because the lead has shattered out upon impact, meat from those animals often contains fragments of lead," she said. "And when they're ingested by humans studies have show that their blood lead levels are higher than those who do not consume game meat."

The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 44-21. It will be heard in the state Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee Tuesday morning.

Story by Lori Abbott

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