Proposed lead-bullet ban working its way through California legislature could raise forest-fire threat; study by USDA and US Forest Service found copper bullets more likely to ignite fires

LOS ANGELES , September 2, 2013 () – A bill currently before the California legislature aimed at banning lead bullets to protect endangered species and stop lead working its way into the human food chain could post the risk of even more catastrophic wildfires, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on Aug. 29.

Opponents of the bill have noted that copper bullets—one of the alternatives for hunters if the bill passed into law--have a much higher propensity for igniting fires.

Environmentalists argue that a lead-bullet ban, as proposed in a bill in the California State Assembly introduced by Democrat Anthony Rendon, would help protect endangered species such as the California Condor.

Supporters for the lead-bullet ban have also highlighted a University of California study that found lead-based ammunition was toxic to humans and the environment. Small fragments of lead bullets can make their way into the human food chain, the study found.

However, a study by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service found that bullets could cause ignitions, “specifically those containing steel components (core or jacket) and those made of solid copper.”

Michelle Orrock of the Cosumnes Community Services District in Sacramento County noted in an emailed statement to The Daily Caller that Rendon’s bill, “like many other bills that move quickly through the California Legislature, has unintended consequences – some of which are particularly timely given the intensity of this fire season.”

Orrock, who helps set and manage the budget for a large fire district, said he was mindful of any potential public policy that, even inadvertently, could increase fire danger and firefighting costs, The Daily Caller reported.

Lead ammunition, which accounts for 95% of the market, has a low propensity of sparking and igniting, according to Orrock.

Hunters are worried about the proposed ban for another reason: the lack of availability of alternatives such as copper and bronze bullets. Kathy Lynch with the National Shooting Sports Foundation said the organization therefore views the move as an attempt to ban traditional hunting in California.

The primary source of this article is The Daily Caller News Foundation, Washington, D.C., Aug. 29, 2013.

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