CA WSF is Working to Keep You in the Field
The California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation (CA WSF) is leading an effort on Capitol Hill to seek the introduction of federal legislation which would move the recently created Castle Mountains National Monument into the Mojave National Preserve. The Castle Mountains National Monument was created by Presidential Proclamation in February 2016 by President Obama, with all hunting within its boundaries subsequently prohibited in Monument's management plan. The move of Castle Mountains Monument into the Mojave National Preserve would not only reestablish public hunting opportunity, but also provide for improved coordination between the State of California and federal agencies on the research, enhancement and active management of wildlife and their habitats within the Castle Mountains. Because the 20,920 acre Castle Mountains National Monument falls within the district of U.S. Representative Paul Cook (R-CA/8th), CA WSF and our conservation partners are appropriately urging Representative Cook to introduce the bill.
The letter was presented to Representative Cook at a meeting in Washington DC on Wednesday, February 21st.
CA WSF is Working to Keep You in the Field
The California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation (CA WSF) is pleased to be co-sponsoring legislation in the current 2017/2018 Session of the California State Legislature which, if passed, could prove critical to keeping hunters in the field.
Assembly Bill 1544, legislation authored by Assembly Member Brian Dahle (R-1st/Bieber) and Assembly Member Devon Mathis (R-26th/Visalia), would provide hunters with critically needed relief from a law which will soon ban lead ammunition for all hunting statewide – should nonlead ammunition prove to be unavailable. CA WSF is teaming with the California Deer Association (CDA) and the California Houndsmen for Conservation (CHC) on co-sponsoring this important bill.
Assembly Bill 711, legislation passed into law in 2013, will make California the only state in the Union to soon require the use of nonlead ammunition for the taking of all wildlife in California with a firearm – including all game and nongame birds and mammals. The measure handed off the duty of developing the exact schedule for phasing in the ban to the California Fish and Game Commission – urging them to move as quickly as possible, but giving them a full implementation deadline of July 1, 2019. With nontoxic ammunition already required for waterfowl hunting for nearly three decades, the Commission moved quickly on requiring nontoxic for the harvest of wildlife typically taken with “waterfowl size” shotgun loads. But, aware that ammunition manufacturers would need more time to develop and produce effective big game loads, the Commission agreed to delay requiring nonlead ammo for all big game – except Nelson bighorn sheep* – until the July 2019 deadline.
With nonlead loads not required for the taking of nearly all big game species until 2019, California’s hunters can currently find nonlead ammunition in several common calibers at many California sporting goods retailers. However, when the Assembly Bill 711 ban goes into full effect in 2019 – and nonlead loads are suddenly required for hunting all wildlife statewide – California’s retailers will have severe difficulty obtaining enough nonlead ammunition to meet the sudden increase in demand.
Until recently, California’s hunting community could take some comfort in knowing that they also had the option of going to out of state retailers to meet their need for nonlead ammunition. However, last year’s passage of Senate Bill 1235, followed by the approval of Proposition 63 on last November’s ballot, will ban the direct internet and mail order purchase of ammunition without the cost-prohibitive step of going through a local retailer as of July 1, 2019 –ironically the same day that California’s ban on lead ammunition will go into full effect. The result of this “perfect storm” being to keep any law-abiding hunter who cannot find his or her caliber on a local retailer’s shelf out of the field.
Knowing that most members of the Wild Sheep Foundation hunt much more than just wild sheep, CA WSF knew something must be done to ensure that our members can be in the field, come 2019 and beyond. In close partnership with CDA and CHC, and with the critical support and assistance of Assembly Members Dahle and Mathis, the result was the introduction of Assembly Bill 1544.
Currently, language in the Fish and Game Code allows the Director of Fish and Wildlife to temporarily suspend the prohibition on lead ammunition for a specific hunting season and caliber, if nonlead ammunition of that caliber is not commercially available because of federal prohibitions related to armor-piercing ammunition. Specifically, Assembly Bill 1544 proposes to substantially expand this exemption to allow the Director to suspend the prohibition for a hunting season and caliber should ammunition of that caliber not be available for any reason.
Introduced in the California State Legislature on February 17th, Assembly Bill 1544 will first be heard in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. Although the bill has not yet been scheduled for hearing, it will likely be first heard in early to mid-April. CA WSF understands that passing this pro-hunting bill through California’s State Legislature will be difficult. But CA WSF will work with CDA and CHC to do everything necessary to get it done – and CA WSF members can assist. Via this newsletter and other outreach, CA WSF will provide our members with updates on the progress of this important legislation. CA WSF members can play a critical role in helping pass this bill by contacting their elected representatives and urging them to strongly support this critically needed legislation, and/or attending committee hearings at our State Capitol and testifying in support.
The California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation is proud to be taking this stand on behalf of our membership. Teaming with our partners in conservation, and working with Assembly Members Dahle and Mathis on the introduction of Assembly Bill 1544, is just one of our many efforts on the political front to ensure our hunting heritage is safe and secure for the enjoyment of generations of Californians to come.
*Editors note: Because of the very small number of tags allocated annually in California, the Commission has required the use of nonlead ammunition for the hunting Nelson bighorn sheep since July 1, 2015.