Lead Ban Chronicles – CA Statewide Lead Ban Back On The Table
February 20, 2013
I’d heard some whispers about this, but I don’t usually like to run with rumors. I know, sometimes it puts me a step behind when news breaks, but it also keeps me from looking like a damned fool when a hot topic turns into a cold splash of nothing at all.
Point is, it looks like CA hunters are looking down the barrel of a fresh effort to ban lead ammunition across the Golden State. According to this article from today’s Mercury News (San Jose), a coalition of organizations including Audubon and HSUS are again pressuring the CA legislature and the CA Fish and Game Commission to ban lead ammo statewide, for all hunting. The argument would appear to be that, since the lead ammo ban in the condor range doesn’t seem to be working (condors are still getting lead poisoning), then the ban needs to expand beyond the condors’ range.
The state already bans lead ammunition for hunters in the range of the endangered California condor, but environmentalists say a statewide ban is needed because overwhelming scientific evidence shows condors, bald eagles and other birds are still dying from lead poisoning when they eat dead deer and other animals shot by hunters.
The groups are sponsoring a bill in Sacramento that is expected to be introduced by Friday. They are also asking the state Fish and Game Commission to pass a lead bullet ban.
“Countless wild animals suffer and die needlessly every year from the continued use of lead ammunition,” said Jennifer Fearing, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. “It is put in the environment and stays there. It’s toxic, and it’s cumulative.”
I don’t hold out much hope that either the Fish and Game Commission or the State legislature are going to push back very hard against this new effort. It’s really going to be up to the hunting community in California. We’ve already seen the depth of influence that HSUS has in the CA government. CA hunters have absolutely got to organize a cohesive and agressive response if you want to continue to have any voice in the regulations that impact you and your sport.
The potential is there. We saw brief flashes of the strength of the hunting community during last year’s fiasco with Dan Richards, and with the hound hunting bill. The efforts were not enough, unfortunately, but that’s largely because the efforts weren’t sustained, and in some cases they were just too late to make any difference. Simply showing up, en masse, for a single State House protest won’t do the trick. It will take persistence, education, organization, and money. Remember, HSUS comes into this thing with nothing to lose, much to gain, and very deep pockets. Jennifer Fearing and others have been working for years, chiseling away to make inroads throughout Sacramento.
I would strongly recommend looking at an organization like California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA), and building the strength and influence of that group through both membership and money. With the proper resources, this group could present a significant challenge to the influence of HSUS and other organizations. But just buying a membership and sending donations isn’t enough. Hunters have got to be actively involved, whether it’s through letter-writing and phone campaigns, rallies, or through working inside the organization to focus the message and push it through. The worst possible thing you can do is just join the group and then wait for them to do the work for you.
At any rate, this promises to be a tough fight. The stakes are not unsubstantial either. A fair number of CA hunters stand to be pretty soundly screwed if they’re no longer able to use lead ammunition.