Friday, August 30, 2013

Calif. lead bullet ban could burn down more forests

Efforts by California state officials to ban lead bullets in an effort to protect the environment could actually end up hurting it, according to critics. A bill in the California State Assembly introduced by Democrat Anthony Rendon would ban the use of lead bullets by hunters in California, which environmentalists argue would help protect endangered species like the California Condor. Hunters would be forced to use non-lead alternatives, like copper bullets. However, government research shows that solid-copper bullets have a much higher propensity to ignite fires than lead core bullets. “We found that bullets could reliably cause ignitions, specifically those containing steel components (core or jacket) and those made of solid copper,” reads a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service. “Ignitions of peat also occurred with a small set of tests using solid copper bullets and a granite target,” added the study. “Thermal infra-red video and temperature sensitive paints suggested that the temperature of bullet fragments could exceed 800°C. Bullet fragments collected from a water tank were larger for solid copper and steel core/jacketed bullets than for lead core bullets, which also facilitate ignition.” Lead ammunition occupies 95 percent of the ammunition market and has a low propensity of sparking and igniting, according to Orrock, and mandating that hunters can no longer use such bullets in the state would artificially increase the market share of copper bullets — increasing the risk of wildfires...more

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