SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) announced the passage of Assembly Bill 2223, which will ban the use of toxic lead shot in California’s 667,000 acre network of State Wildlife Management Areas.

Due to widespread consensus that the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting poses a significant danger in wetland environments, federal law bans such use. However, the use of lead shot for upland game is currently allowed on most State Wildlife Management Areas, and often results in lead being introduced into wetland environments anyway. Research now shows that both wetland and upland birds will ingest spent lead shot, and thereby creating the potential for devastating effects on these bird populations.

“The science is increasingly clear that lead shot poses a real danger to bird populations on these lands,” said Nava. “With viable alternatives to lead shot – this is just a no-brainer.”

A total of 25 states have lead shot prohibitions for hunting beyond those required by the federal government for waterfowl. Of the 40 states that allow dove hunting, 16 have some level of nontoxic shot requirements specific to dove hunting.

“Allowing this situation to continue is inconsistent with the state’s mission to manage these wildlife areas to the highest standards,” said Dan Taylor, director of public policy for Audubon California. “These areas are islands of habitat that serve as magnets to wildlife and human visitors with excellent wildlife viewing, fishing and hunting opportunities.”

Assemblymember Nava authored and passed a state law in 2008 to prohibit the use of lead ammunition in areas inhabited by the California condor because of the dangers that it posed for that endangered species.

“We need to get lead out of our State Wildlife Management Areas,” said Nava “It makes no sense to allow people to leave poisonous material in the wild.”

“We would expect hunters to embrace and quickly adapt to the new regulations as they did with the ban on lead shot for waterfowl,” said Taylor. “There is not reason to choose between conservation and recreation on these lands.”