However, given the drastic change, AB 711’s provisions will be phased in over time, up until July 1, 2019 when it will be fully enforced. The first phase that has been in effect since July 1, requires all California hunters to use certified “non-lead ammunition” when taking: (1) Nelson bighorn sheep anywhere within the state; and (2) all wildlife within a Wildlife Area or an Ecological Reserve.
With the first phase already in place, California dove hunters should be aware of its effect on the upcoming dove hunting season, which begins on Tuesday, September 1. Many may not be aware that some of the most prominent locations for dove hunting fall inside Wildlife Areas or Ecological Reserves. For example, the Imperial Wildlife area includes the Wister Unit, Hazard Unit, and the Finney-Ramer Unit - some of California’s most popular dove hunting locations. The Camp Cady Wildlife Area near Barstow and the Ash Creek Wildlife Area in Lassen County are also very popular.
Dove hunters planning to hunt this season in these or any Wildlife Areas or Ecological Reserves should be advised that non-lead shot will be required. Hunters should also be careful if they are moving around or changing spots throughout the day when near these areas. Their boundaries are often unmarked. The same goes for those planning to hunt mountain quail in the following weeks, or any upland game birds throughout October and November. Additionally, some military lands that are open to hunting, like Fort Hunter Liggett and Camp Roberts, require the use of non-lead ammunition, even if state law restrictions do not apply. So call before you go so you don’t get turned away the day of the hunt.
On that note, we strongly encourage all hunters to contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife before going out to the field to determine whether the area you plan on hunting requires non-lead shot. You can contact the Department at:
California Department of Fish and Game
1416 9th Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-0411