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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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Action Timeline

December 16, 2004 – A Center-led coalition of conservation groups, Native Americans, and hunters petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to require nonlead ammunition for big-game hunting in California condor habitat.

July 11, 2006 – A Center-led coalition of conservation and health organizations announced its intent to sue the California Fish and Game Commission for continuing to allow the use of toxic lead ammunition poisoning California condors.

November 30, 2006 – The Center and allies filed suit against the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Game for allowing lead ammunition to continue to poison California condors.

February 23, 2007 – After pressure from the Center and other groups, the Tejon Ranch Corporation announced that nonlead ammunition would be required for all hunting and predator control on the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch.

July 31, 2007 – The Center and allies requested that the Arizona Game and Fish Commission require the use of nonlead ammunition to prevent further lead poisonings of Arizona’s condors.

September 4, 2007 – In large part due to the Center’s 2006 lawsuit and advocacy, the California Senate approved the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act — an historic measure requiring hunters to use nonlead ammunition for hunting big game and coyotes within the California condor’s range in central and Southern California.  The law became effective July 1, 2008.

December 7, 2007 – The California Fish and Game Commission approved additional hunting regulations for 2008 that expanded the requirements for hunters to use nonlead bullets in the condor range. The new regulations required nonlead ammunition for hunting nongame birds and mammals within the condor range.

June 4, 2008 – Tejon Ranch sought federal permits under the Endangered Species Act for permission to “take,” (harm, harass or kill) the California condor and other rare wildlife. The application coincided with reports of a spike in lead poisonings of Southern California condors, suspected to be caused by ingestion of lead ammunition used by hunters on Tejon Ranch. Tejon Ranch had evidently not enforced its own rule to disallow lead ammo on the 270,000-acre property.

December 3, 2008 – The Center reached a settlement with the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Game that extended the protections of the Ridley-Tree Condor Conservation Act by eliminating lead ammunition for depredation hunting, the shooting of animals deemed a nuisance or threat.

March 25, 2009 – The Center filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service for their failure to protect California condors from toxic lead ammunition in crafting management plans for public lands near the Grand Canyon known as the Arizona Strip.

April 6-10, 2009 – After two condors from the Big Sur and California’s central coast were found shot full of lead bullets in March, the Center established a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter or shooters. The Center hired a private investigator to assist in efforts to apprehend the person or persons responsible for the condor shootings and increased the reward fund for information leading to the shooter’s capture to $40,500.

August 3, 2010 – The Center and a coalition of conservation, hunting and veterinary groups filed a formal petition with the Environmental Protection Agency requesting a ban on the use of toxic lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle.

August 27, 2010 – The EPA to denied the portion of our petition seeking to ban toxic lead bullets and shot, claiming it didn’t have the authority to regulate lead ammunition.

September 2010 – The Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the EPA asking for all documents related to the agency’s partial denial of our petition.

September 27, 2010 – Sixty-eight conservation groups representing birders, hunters, scientists, American Indians and public employees wrote a letter to the EPA endorsing our petition to ban toxic lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle.

November 4, 2010 – Ignoring long-established science on the dangers of lead poisoning in the wild, the EPA denied the portion of our petition requesting a ban on lead fishing tackle and sinkers.

November 23, 2010 – The Center, along with a coalition of conservation and hunting groups, sued the EPA for failing to regulate toxic lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle in response to our petition.

April 8, 2011 – Three new scientific studies by University of California researchers confirm that lead poisoning of endangered California condors and other wildlife is due to scavenging animals ingesting fragments of spent lead hunting ammunition.

July 2011 – The Fish and Wildlife Service announced its intent to begin cleaning up toxic, lead-based paint at federal facilities on Midway Atoll that was killing up to 10,000 Laysan albatross chicks each year and also threatening the endangered Laysan duck. The announcement came after the Center issued a notice of intent to sue the Service and affiliated agencies in 2010 for their failure to remediate the hazardous waste hurting the birds.

September 30, 2011 – Efforts to ban lead hunting ammunition to prevent lead poisoning of wildlife hit a procedural roadblock with a federal judge’s decision to dismiss part of a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s denial of a petition to ban lead ammunition and lead fishing gear.

February 22, 2012 – Ignoring long-established science on the hazards of lead poisoning in the wild, the EPA again denied a formal petition to regulate toxic lead fishing sinkers that frequently kill loons, swans, cranes, ducks, geese and other wildlife. 

March 13, 2012 – One hundred organizations in 35 states formally petitioned the EPA to regulate toxic lead in hunting ammunition to protect public health and prevent the widespread poisoning of eagles, California condors and other wildlife.

April 9, 2012 – The EPA rejected a request for federal regulation of toxic lead in hunting ammunition, again abdicating its responsibility to protect the environment from toxic substances. 

April 17, 2012 – The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4089, the misnamed the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act,” aimed at preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting millions of birds and other animals from lead poisoning by hunting ammunition left in the wild. 

May 18, 2012 – The Center and other conservation groups officially notified the U.S. Forest Service of our intent to file a lawsuit against the agency for its failure to protect endangered California condors in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest from toxic lead ammunition left behind from hunting activities. 

June 7, 2012 – The Center and six other conservation groups filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to address toxic lead in hunting ammunition that frequently poisons and kills eagles, swans, loons, endangered California condors and other wildlife, as well as affecting human health.

June 18, 2012 –The Fish and Wildlife Service entered into a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires the agency to clean up toxic, lead-based paint on Midway Atoll in the Hawaiian archipelago.

June 25, 2012 – In a study, researchers said that lead ammunition is creating an “epidemic” of lead poisoning in California condors.

July 27, 2012 – Public-interest groups, including the Center, filed a notice of our intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to fully implement new air-quality standards for lead, required under the Clean Air Act.

July 31, 2012 – The National Rifle Association filed legal motions to block the EPA from protecting wildlife and people from toxic lead hunting ammunition left in the wild.

September 5, 2012 – The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council sued the U.S. Forest Service today for failing to protect wildlife from toxic lead in spent ammunition in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest.  

December 5, 2012 – The Center launched a series of newspaper and radio ads in Las Vegas urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to block efforts to ban the federal government from regulating lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle. 

March 18, 2013 – A national poll commissioned by the Center found that 57 percent of Americans support requiring the use of nontoxic bullets for hunting.

April 9, 2013 – Lead hunting ammunition poses a serious danger to people and wildlife and ought to be phased out, according to a new statement from 30 scientists, doctors and public-health experts from Harvard, Cornell, Rutgers and other universities around the country. The “consensus statement of scientists” on the hazards of lead ammunition was released in an online University of California publication.

April 16, 2013 – It was announced that seven of the 80 wild condors in Arizona and Utah had died since December 2012; three of those deaths were definitively linked to lead poisoning from ingesting spent lead ammunition fragments in carrion, and lead poisoning was suspected in the other four deaths.

May 14, 2013 – The Center sent a letter to NRA head Wayne LaPierre in response to an unusual request from the gun group seeking information about how lead ammunition poisons endangered California condors. The NRA had for years aggressively lobbied to keep toxic lead in hunting ammunition, but in its letter to the Center professed shocking ignorance about lead’s impacts on endangered California condors.

May 23, 2013 – Conservation groups faced off against the Environmental Protection Agency and National Rifle Association during a federal court hearing over toxic lead hunting ammunition that kills millions of birds and other wildlife every year. The court hearing focused on a lawsuit by the Center and allies to get the EPA to regulate toxic lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

January 20, 2016 – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the so-called “Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2016,” with the inclusion of an amendment from Sen. John Barasso (R-Wyo.) to permanently end Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states. This legislation also prohibited the regulation of lead poisoning from fishing tackle and allowed the import of trophy-hunted polar bear parts.

Photo by Scott Frier, USFWS