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California To Start Banning Lead Ammunition

To protect wildlife from lead poisoning, California is starting to phase out the use of lead ammunition, beginning Wednesday. That means hunters won't be allowed to use some lead bullets.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is phasing out the use of lead ammunition on state lands.

That means Californians will not be allowed to use lead bullets if they are hunting on state land or hunting Nelson bighorn sheep starting Wednesday.

Clark Blanchard, an assistant deputy director for the Fish and Game Department, said the change is designed to keep lead out of backcountry ecosystems.

"The law came from years of reports that California condors were experiencing lead poisoning due to lead ammunition," Blanchard said.

State lawmakers voted two years ago to get rid of the lead ammunition because it was poisoning the critically endangered California condor, he said.

The large carrion eaters feasted on carcasses that had lead bullet fragments. Some birds died as a result.

Blanchard expects hunters to comply.

"The vast majority of the hunters out there are absolutely law abiding, ethical hunters, which following the rules is rule No. 1, so we have no worries that California hunters will comply," Blanchard said.

The first restrictions start Wednesday with the state's new fiscal year. Next year, some shotgun shells will need to be lead free. All lead ammunition will be banned for use in hunting by the summer of 2019.

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