Boone And Crockett Club Speaks Out On California Lead Ammo Ban

Illustration courtesy of the National Park Service

The following is courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club:

MISSOULA, Mont. (July 15, 2019) – The Boone and Crockett Club released a position statement today in light of California’s statewide ban on lead ammunition for hunters, which took effect on July 1, 2019.

Triggered by concerns for the endangered California condor, which inhabit some regions of the state, a bill was signed into law in October 2013 banning all lead ammunition for the taking of game anywhere in the state.

“The history of wildlife conservation in North America has been shaped by the choices sportsmen make to benefit wildlife and their habitats,” said Timothy C Brady, president of the Boone and Crockett Club. “Unfortunately for the sportsmen in California, legislators have made the decision about the use of lead even in areas of California where condors aren’t present.”

Studies have shown that lead bullet fragments left in the remains of harvested big game animals can unintentionally increase the risk of sickness or mortality when ingested by condors. In other states where condors exist, state wildlife agencies are offering hunter education and providing non-lead ammunition for use in those areas. Sportsmen themselves are opting to use non-lead ammunition in certain situations to reduce the probability of unintentionally impacting scavenging raptors. These efforts have met with success, both in acceptance from sportsmen and reductions in lead fragments left in the field.

The new position statement reads in part that:

Scientific wildlife management recognizes that while the mortality of an individual bird is a concern, it may not necessarily indicate a threat to an entire population  and warrant a blanket nationwide or statewide ban of lead ammunition.

The Club believes that if an individual state wildlife agency decides that lead exposure represents a population-level issue for a particular species in a given area,  it should be up to that agency (not federal/state legislators or voters) to implement  targeted solutions that do not unnecessarily restrict hunting or shooting opportunities,
including hunter education, voluntary programs, or mandatory programs using suitable ammunition alternatives.

Brady explained, “The science and the steps that need to be taken to protect bird species from ingesting lead needs to be interpreted by wildlife professionals and limited to the geographic areas and population levels where the problem exists. The Club believes California has taken an overly broad approach to addressing the problem of lead fragments where condors exist, but there is no scientific basis to support nationwide or statewide bans.”

A century ago, sportsmen supported limiting harvest and regulating hunting seasons so game species would recover and thrive. Sportsmen chose to tax themselves to supply a reliable stream of funding for conservation and game management. As a result other actions and contributions by sportsmen, regulated hunting has become an irreplaceable mechanism for conservation.

Brady concluded, “As sportsmen, we take great pride in our legacy of doing what needs to be done and adapting as the science of wildlife health continues to evolve. Lead is a proven threat to condors. History shows that politicizing wildlife conservation and taking it out of the hands of trained professionals can be just as harmful.”

The full position statement can be read here.

About the Boone and Crockett Club
Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club is the oldest conservation organization in North America and helped to establish the principles of wildlife and habitat conservation, hunter ethics, as well as many of the institutions, expert agencies, science and funding mechanisms for conservation. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. For details, visit