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VENTURA FWO: Camp Roberts Hosts Non-lead Ammunition demonstration.
California-Nevada Offices , July 20, 2008
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Participants examine ballistics gel after non-lead ammunition demonstration. (USFWS photo: Chris Diel)
Participants examine ballistics gel after non-lead ammunition demonstration. (USFWS photo: Chris Diel) - Photo Credit: n/a
(Chris Diel)  Lead fragments recovered from a lead core bullet shot into a water barrel.
(Chris Diel) Lead fragments recovered from a lead core bullet shot into a water barrel. - Photo Credit: n/a
Local sportsmen shoot at targets with non-lead ammunition to demonstrate performance. (USFWS photo: Chris Diel)
Local sportsmen shoot at targets with non-lead ammunition to demonstrate performance. (USFWS photo: Chris Diel) - Photo Credit: n/a

On July 20, 2008, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, funded by a grant from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with the California Army National Guard, the National Park Service, and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, provided a non-lead ammunition educational program and demonstration at Camp Roberts, California.  The event allowed sportsmen and women of all ages the opportunity to evaluate the performance of non-lead ammunition, provided free of charge, using their own firearms.  Demonstrations included a comparison of lead and non-lead ammunition shot into ballistics gel and recovery of bullets shot into water barrels, both showing the high fragmentation of lead ammunition after impact.  Informational literature available included papers on the effects of lead on wildlife, in-depth studies on the ballistics of lead versus non-lead ammunition, and summaries on the natural history and status of sensitive wildlife species, particularly the endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus).  Representatives from the California Army National Guard were present to ensure firearm safety and to answer questions about the hunting program and regulations at Camp Roberts.  The majority of the participants indicated the non-lead ammunition performed as good as lead and were concerned by the amount of fragmentation a lead bullet undergoes upon impact and the effects those fragments could have if consumed by wildlife or humans.

 

Bullet fragments left behind in carcasses or gut-piles shot with lead ammunition can pose a serious risk for any scavenging animal that inadvertently ingests the fragments.  Several California condors in California and Arizona have died of lead poisoning, and every year several more undergo chelation treatment to reduce toxic lead levels in their blood.  Evidence of ammunition as a cause of California condor lead poisoning increased with the publication of a study indicating lead ammunition as the principal source (Church et al. 2006).

 

In early 2007, after informal conversations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Army National Guard at Camp Roberts provided leadership in the conservation of California condors, and all wildlife, by prohibiting the use of lead bullets in its hunting program effective July 1, 2007, and all lead ammunition effective July 1, 2008.  This regulation change was a voluntary commitment by the California Army National Guard and an example of their continued pro-active approach to conserving sensitive species and removing lead from the environment. 

 

On October 13, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act (Act) that required the use of non-lead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition for hunting big game and coyotes within the designated range of California condors; effective July 1, 2008.  On December 7, 2007, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted the Act and expanded it to include all projectiles containing lead fired from a firearm, except .22 rimfire and smaller calibers for hunting small game animals.

 

Church, M. E., R. Gwiazda, R. W. Risebrough, K. Sorenson, C. P. Chamberlain, S. Farry, W. Heinrich, B. A. Rideout, and D. R. Smith.  2006.  Ammunition is the principal source of lead accumulated by California condors re-introduced to the wild. Environmental Science and Technology 40:6143–6150. 

 

 


Contact Info: Christopher Diel, 805/644/1766x305, christopher_diel@fws.gov



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