A bill before the California Assembly would outlaw the use of lead ammunition by hunters. There is already a federal prohibition on its use in hunting waterfowl, and in 2007 the state banned it in the range of the endangered California condor.
AB 711, written by Assemblymen Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), would take these restrictions a step further in an effort to safeguard animals as well as the environment. Lead pellets in shotgun shells, typically used to shoot birds, spray across land and water. (Under some conditions, lead dissolves in water or infiltrates groundwater.) Lead bullets, used commonly to hunt big-game mammals, fragment into hundreds of shards upon impact. Hunters who field dress their kills leave behind the carcasses — often full of lead fragments — that are then ingested by scavenging birds and mammals, among them coyotes, raccoons and pumas.
Even tiny amounts of lead are toxic, and there is no safe level for humans, which is why it's been removed from most paint, gasoline, children's toys and other products. The National Park Service reports on its website that studies have shown that wild game meat consumed by humans can sometimes be tainted with lead as well.