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Non-lead ammunition shortages are expected this fall and smart hunters are shopping early

If you want to use non-lead ammunition for your hunt this year, now is the time to start shopping. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is expecting a repeat of last year’s non-lead ammunition shortage this hunting season. Those intending to hunt big game in California or in condor areas in Arizona (Game Management Units 12A, 12B, 13A and 13B), are strongly encouraged to buy their non-lead ammunition supplies as soon as possible.

Last year, many hunters who waited to shop at small community stores and outfitters near their hunt destinations were disappointed to find that non-lead ammunition had been completely sold out by the time they arrived. Local retailers, especially those in rural areas of Arizona, tend to run out of stock early. Hunters would be well-advised to plan ahead and check with local suppliers now. If inventory is low, call or visit larger retailers in metropolitan areas like Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Yuma.

There are many factors contributing to the increasing scarcity of non-lead ammunition. It has gained popularity with many hunters in Arizona. Some choose non-lead because they want to reduce lead exposure for condors and other raptors. Many hunters prefer the effectiveness of non-lead ammunition in dropping game. Others embrace the opportunity to put lean, hormone-free game meat on the table, but worry about exposing their families and others to the health risks of lead left behind in game killed with conventional ammunition.

California’s expanded directive regarding use of non-lead ammunition for all hunting in that state is also contributing to the scarcity of non-lead ammunition here in Arizona. Hunters from California have been quick to tap the non-lead ammunition inventory of Arizona retailers and suppliers, leaving supplies depleted even earlier than expected.

Whatever reasons guide your choices, remember that non-lead ammunition is often in short supply and can be extremely difficult to find – especially right before hunting seasons open.

“Arizona has had tremendous success with our voluntary non-lead ammunition program,” said Assistant Director of Wildlife Management Jim deVos. “We have a volunteer participation rate of 80 to 90 percent of hunters in the condor’s core range. It’s important that hunters are able to obtain adequate supplies of non-lead ammunition as they head out this season.”

The California condor frequents the lands in hunt units 12A, 12B, 13A and 13B. The voluntary use of non-lead ammunition by hunters in recent years has yielded a significant decrease in the impact of lead poisoning on this recovering endangered species.


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