When is non-toxic shot required in California when using shotguns and muzzleloaders?

Non-toxic shot requirements for California hunting seasons,

Here, we fetch up the answer to when non-toxic shot is required in California when hunting with shotguns and muzzleloader. In general, it’s  illegal to hunt while in possession of both lead ammo and a firearm capable of shooting it. It’s usually okay, though, to carry lead ammo when you don’t have a firearm capable of shooting it. There’s limited exception for legally concealed weapons. Other exceptions depend on the firearm, location, and/or species involved.

Warning shot!!! As of July 1, 2019, only approved non-toxic ammo, as defined under State law, will be allowed throughout the entire State, regardless of the firearm, location, or purpose. See 14 CCR § 250.1(c) and (d)(3).

Topics

  1. Approved Non-Toxic Ammo
  2. Definitions (lead projectiles, nonlead ammo, certified nonlead)
  3. Places in Which the Ban Applies
  4. Purposes for Which the Ban Applies
  5. Species to Which the Ban Applies

Approved Ammo

Under federal and State law, non-toxic ammo is required for hunting certain species and at specified locations. When required, non-toxic shot must be approved by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).  Approved materials are listed in 50 CFR § 20.21. Each shot type must contain less than 1 percent residual lead. See 50 CFR § 20.134 [migratory birds], 14 CCR § 250.1(b)(3) and (f)(1) [shotguns],  14 CCR § 505(a)(4) [migratory game birds], 14 CCR § 507(a)(4) [migratory game birds], 14 CCR § 507.1, 14 CCR § 552(a) [wildlife areas].

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Definitions

Lead Projectiles

Under California law, the ban on lead ammo applies to “projectiles.” A projectile is defined as “any bullet, ball, sabot, slug, buckshot, shot, pellet or other device that is expelled from a firearm through a barrel by force.” See 14 CCR § 250.1(b)(1).

Nonlead Ammo

When lead ammo is restricted, hunters have to use ammo certified as “nonlead.” Nonlead ammunition is “any centerfire, shotgun, muzzleloading, or rimfire ammunition containing projectiles.”

Certified Nonlead

When nonlead ammo is required, the lead must be certified as nonlead. “Certified” means the projectiles are made of materials approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To be consider nonlead, there cannot be any more than more than one percent lead by weight. See 14 CCR § 250.1(b)(2)-(4), referring to standards in 14 CCR § 507.1.

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Places in Which the Ban Applies

California

As of July 1, 2019, it will be illegal to use lead ammo for hunting any species for any purpose. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. Meanwhile, the ban is being phased in based on the location and/or species. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(3).

Condor Range

The California Condor is a protected bird. They’re primarily located in an area known as the California Condor Range. When hunting Big Game and Coyote there, there are ammo restrictions related to Big Game and Coyote hunting. See FGC § 3004.5 and our summary for the California Condor Range Hunting.

Big Game

Non-toxic shot requirements in the California Condor Range.In general, you have to use “nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition” when hunting Big Game in the California Condor Range. The ammo must be certified as “nontoxic.” For Deer, the requirement involves the hunting zones listed below.

    • D7
    • D8
    • D9
    • D10
    • D11
    • D13
    • Part of zone A South.

Violations can result in a fine of $500 for the first offense. There’s an exception to these rules for certain government officials acting in the scope of their official duty. See FGC § 3004.5 and our summary for the California Condor Range Hunting.

Coyote

Ban on non-toxic shot in the California Condor Range for Coyote hunting.In general, you have to use “nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition” when hunting Coyote in the California Condor Range. The ammo must be certified as “nontoxic.” Violations can result in a fine of $500 for the first offense. There’s an exception to these rules for certain government officials acting in the scope of their official duty. See FGC § 3004.5 and our summary for the California Condor Range Hunting.

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Ecological Reserves

Since July 1, 2015, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting on any Ecological Reserve or Wildlife Area. The same rules apply to the possession of both lead ammo and a firearm capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(1)(B).

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Wildlife Areas

Since July 1, 2015, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting on any Wildlife Area or Ecological Reserve. “Wildlife Areas” include some National Wildlife Refuges. The same rules apply to the possession of both lead ammo and a firearm capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(1)(B) and

When hunting at any Type A or Type B Wildlife Area, it’s illegal to possess or fire shotguns with shell shot larger than size “T” in steel or “BB” in lead. Only steel or other non-toxic shot is allowed at all National Wildlife Refuges. The same is true for the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area and the Tolay Creek Unit of the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area south of Highway 37. See 14 CCR 550(cc)(4) and 14 CCR 552(a).

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Purposes for Which the Ban Applies

As of July 1, 2019, it will be illegal to use lead ammo for hunting any species in California for any purpose. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(3).

Animal Control

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for bobcat causing property damage.Since July 1, 2016, it’s been illegal for landowners and tenants to use lead ammo to kill animals causing property damage. It doesn’t matter whether you have a permit or not. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(F) and our summary for California Depredation Permits.

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Species for Which the Ban Applies

As of July 1, 2019, it will be illegal to use lead ammo for hunting any species for any purpose. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(3).

Big Game

See Places: Condor Range above.

Deer

See Places: Condor Range above.

Bighorn Sheep

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for Bighorn sheep.Since July 1, 2015, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting Nelson Bighorn Sheep. The same is true for possess both lead ammo and a firearm capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(1)(A).

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Furbearing Mammals

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for Raccoon hunting.Since July 1, 2016, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting Furbearing Mammals. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(C).

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Migratory Game Birds

Muzzleloaders

The same as “Shotguns” below.

Shotguns

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for hunting with shotguns.Under federal law, it’s illegal to hunt Migratory Game Birds with shotguns while in possession of lead or other toxic ammo. You have to use steel or other non-toxic shot approved by the USFWS. See Approved Ammo and 50 CFR § 20.21(j) and 20.108.

Under California law, it’s illegal to hunt migratory game birds with shell shot larger than “BB” in lead or “T” shot in steel or other non-toxic shot approved by the USFWS. It also illegal to have larger shell shot in your possession while hunting migratory game birds. See 14 CCR §§ 507(a)(4), 14 CCR § 507.1 and 550(cc)(4).

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Nongame Birds

See Nongame Birds below.

Waterfowl

See Waterfowl below.

Nongame Birds

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for American Crow hunting.Since July 1, 2016, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting Nongame Birds. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(E).

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Nongame Mammals

Coyote

See Places: Condor Range above.

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Pistols & Rifles

By no later than July 1, 2019, “nonlead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition” will be required for hunting all wildlife in California. See FGC § 3004.5(b).

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Shotguns

Since July 1, 2016, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting Nongame Mammals. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(E).

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Small Game Mammals

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for Squirrel hunting.Since July 1, 2016, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting many Small Game Mammals. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(B).

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Upland Game Birds

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for Quail hunting.Since July 1, 2016, it’s been illegal to use lead ammo for hunting many Upland Game Birds. The same is true for the possession of both lead ammo and a shotgun capable of using it. Until no later than July 1, 2019, there’s an exception for dove, quail, snipe, and birds taken at a Licensed Game Bird Club. See 14 CCR § 250.1(d)(2)(A).

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Waterfowl, Coots & Moorhen

Non-toxic shot requirements in California for duck and goose hunting.Under California law, you can only use shell shot approved by the USFWS to hunt waterfowl, which is Ducks and Geese. The same applies to American Coots and Common Moorhen. See Approved Ammo and 14 CCR § 507.1.

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