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13 May 2013

An Opposing Viewpoint: Proposed Lead-Ammo Ban Is an Assault on California Hunters

Written by  Tom Pedersen

Regarding "Get the Lead Out: Effort to Ban Lead Ammo in California Should Be a No-Brainer":

Assembly Bill 711 would ban all hunting with lead ammunition throughout California. Self-proclaimed environmental groups, largely opposed to hunting in general, claim condors feeding on game carcasses are poisoned by lead ammunition fragments, and are pushing this ill-conceived proposal through the Legislature to bypass the scrutiny their claims received from the Fish and Game Commission. The commission enacts hunting and fishing regulations, and analyzes scientific claims before taking regulatory action. This is the second time these groups have tried to skirt the commission’s review.

There has been a ban on hunting large game with lead ammunition in the California condor range since 2008, due to the passage of Assembly Bill 821. The same anti-hunting groups pushed AB 821 through the Legislature to get around real scientific inquiry into the source of lead poisoning in condors that was being conducted by the commission at that time. They promised that AB 821 would stop condors from being poisoned. It hasn’t.

Faced with AB 821’s predictable failure, lead-ammo-ban advocates then pressured the commission to expand the scope of the AB 821 lead-ammo ban statewide. But last August, the commission refused to expand the scope of the existing lead-ammo ban, citing the need for more scientific evaluation. At the August 2012 commission meeting, scientists critical of the lead-ammo-ban proponents’ claims showed that the incidence of lead poisoning in condors has not gone down, and blood-lead levels and mortality have actually increased! This is true despite California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s confirmation that 99 percent of California hunters are complying with AB 821, and have not used lead ammo since 2008. This strongly suggests an alternative source of soluble lead in the environment that is poisoning condors—something other than metallic lead ammunition.

After hearing the presentation last August, Commissioner Richard Rogers bluntly said “the science has got to make sense or else you’re not going to sell the rest of us (on an expanded lead-ammunition ban), that’s for darn sure.” Further, then-commission president Jim Kellogg admonished the lead-ban-advocacy groups to not cheat the process again by introducing a bill in the Legislature. Kellogg asked the groups to “allow us (the commission) the opportunity to try to make this work before you go to the legislature and get a bill going. That’s what rushed it through the last time.” Watch the hearing at www.huntfortruth.org/site/portfolio/video-1/.

Kellogg's plea was ignored. Impatient lead-ammunition-ban proponents disregarded the commissioners’ requests to move the issue through its conventional scientific review and instead got Assemblymember Anthony Rendon to introduce AB 711.

Through the lead-ammunition working committee created by the commission at the behest of current commission president Michael Sutton, the department and commission are ready to investigate and settle the condor lead-poisoning debate based on facts, sound science and a full hearing from all stake holders. There are many questions that need to be answered. After an exhaustive public-records retrieval campaign, those records show that anti-lead ammunition researchers have hidden underlying data and worked hard to avoid public scrutiny of their publicly subsidized research. A recent paper (Finkelstein, et al., “Lead Poisoning and the Deceptive Recovery of the Critically Endangered California Condor, May 2012) concedes that AB 821 has had no effect on lead poisoning in condors. Nonetheless, the paper tenuously concludes that a total ban on lead ammunition is now appropriate. The unaddressed question: What is the source of lead that is poisoning condors?

To politicians, real science is too hard to study, or flat out is irrelevant. So despite proof that the existing lead-ammo ban has not been effective, and despite the fact that some of the key scientific papers used to justify the condor zone lead-ammo ban have been soundly debunked, the lead-ammo ban lobbyists persist in pushing their anti-hunting agenda statewide. But their ideological rhetoric, not sound science, is carrying AB 711. That’s how these groups got the first ineffective lead-ammunition ban passed. The same flimsy tactic is the basis for their latest assault on California hunters.

Tom Pedersen is the retired Chief of Law Enforcement for the California Department of Fish and Game. He currently serves as the liaison on legislative and fish and game regulatory issues for the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

7 comments

  • Comment Link D. Peterson Monday, 17 June 2013 15:58 posted by D. Peterson

    Where have you seen dead anything killed by ingesting lead? Where are they? What dove has died of lead poisening? I don't believe you know jack about hunting. Please give me the research site from where you culled this knowledge of lead poisening.

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  • Comment Link Barry Friday, 17 May 2013 13:32 posted by Barry

    What I would like to know is how they are going to deal with the people, like me, that do not hunt, but spend a lot of time at the gun range.

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  • Comment Link curt lea Thursday, 16 May 2013 21:56 posted by curt lea

    What I wish is for every hunter to not buy a licence and tags for just one year to show these idiots where the butter on the bread comes from. I think I'm done in California and My six family members will get to hunt out of state this year. I'm done giving them my hard earned money to slap me in the face with it. California will receive $1000 dollars less from me this year. And if i can do it I will move my family out of state.

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  • Comment Link Scott Thursday, 16 May 2013 14:24 posted by Scott

    Real hunters do it lead free??? Kay??? Yep... you sound like a hunter all right.

    I can tell I spent the better part of a decade working with Ducks Unlimited. You've got it wrong... it's not that hunters "should be" wildlife and wildland stewards... it's that they ARE. And damned near the only ones. Nearly 80% of ALL wildlife management and preservation funds come from where? Sierra Club? PETA? 1000 different granola crunching tree hugging liberals in San Francisco? No. Hunting licenses. That's what pays to keep the wildlife going in this state, not liberal pricks. And the majority of the rest of the slack is picked up by groups like DU, which is made up of almost exclusively hunters and outdoorsmen.

    With that said, I don't know a single member of DU (at least not in my chapter) that went along with the lead ban when they banned it for waterfowl hunting. It increased costs, lowered effectiveness and actually resulted in more dead-loss as most alternatives didn't have the stopping power of lead and more birds flew off and died elsewhere. Now we're facing the same "alternatives" for what... quail, dove, turkey, etc.?

    Why is it so hard to simply make fact based decisions? You say the waterways are polluted with lead because of generations of fishing and losing weights? Find me the study that shows the elevated lead levels in water testing. They claimed it was harming the condors and others. And yet their lead poisoning instances have increased in the years following the lead ammo ban, in spite of 99% enforcement success. How is that? Why don't you liberals all just come at an issue honestly? How about this... "We don't care about lead... we have no idea if it has any negative impact on the environment at all, nor do we have any scientific proof to support any of our assertions. We just hate hunting because we're tree huggers and we'll use any excuse we can to push through our agenda... Locally... at the State level... and Federally. Screw your rights... they conflict with my view of the way the world should operate, and therefore you will comply with my wishes, as mine are based on an intellectual and moral superiority that you simply cannot comprehend."

    At least if you all approached it that way, we could respect your honesty and integrity while laughing at your stupidity and hypocrisy.

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  • Comment Link carlos Wednesday, 15 May 2013 21:51 posted by carlos

    I heard an add the other day stating since the lead was taken out of paint it should be removed from our lands and water ways. Well I say let's start with the fishing community first. How many lead weights are lost in our water ways used for drinking water? Sadly it is never about the environment it's the anti hunting groups pushing there agendas that are not supported by science.

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  • Comment Link Kay  Neumann Wednesday, 15 May 2013 06:35 posted by Kay Neumann

    Over 130 species of wildlife are known to ingest lead from ammunition and die; condors, eagles, doves, swans, etc. As an avid hunter for the last 23 years, I have switched over to completely non lead ammo since 2004. It was easy. Hunter's need to stand up for wildlife not the NRA. Real hunters are wildlife and wildlands stewards. Real hunters do it lead free.

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  • Comment Link HuntForTruth Tuesday, 14 May 2013 12:04 posted by HuntForTruth

    AB 711 would make California the first state in the nation to prohibit the use of all lead ammunition for hunting. This bill now goes to the state Assembly floor where it is expected to be brought up for a vote soon. HuntForTruth urges all hunters, recreational shooters and gun owners to actively oppose AB 711.

    Be sure to check out HuntForTruth.org’s shocking new video opposing AB 711 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5Zki-boWXo and its recent hard-hitting rebuttal to the bill sponsor’s alleged “facts” sheet in support of the bill, which can be found at http://www.huntfortruth.org/site/2013/05/06/rebuttal-to-the-audubon-societys-support-for-the-proposed-statewide-lead-ammunition-ban-ab-711-for-hunting-in-california. This video and the rebuttal reveal the truth regarding lead ammunition, and expose the misinformation being spread by the ammunition ban proponents in their latest attack on hunters that is being disguised as a campaign to “get the lead out.”

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