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_A bill that would have banned hunters from using lead shot on state wildlife areas has been killed in committee. The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee rejected AB 2223 last week. The bill would have banned lead shotgun shells on state Wildlife Management Areas. There are 667,000 acres in the Department of Fish and Game-managed network of wildlife areas, including a handful in the north state.

__Federal law banned the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in the early 1990s after studies showed that ducks and other waterfowl were being poisoned by lead from the pellets that fell back into the water supply after a missed shot. There also were worries that predatory animals would consume lead by eating downed birds that had been shot but lost by hunters. At most of the state’s wildlife areas, including a handful in the north state, hunters are allowed to use lead shot to hunt other small game like rabbit, quail, turkey, dove and pheasant. The author of AB 2223, Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, argued that research showed both wetland and upland birds will ingest spent lead shot, creating the potential for devastating effects on those bird populations. Nava is leaving office this year, forced out by term limits, so the bill would need a new author if it were to be reintroduced in the next legislative session.

The bill was opposed by hunting groups like the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, whose lobbyists had argued it should be the California Fish and Game Commission, not lawmakers, making decisions using scientific analysis on whether spent lead shot was actually hurting animals on the wildlife areas. The bill passed the state Assembly last month on a party-line vote with Assembly Republicans like Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, voting against it and Democrats like Wesley Chesbro, D-Arcata, voting for it._