SACRAMENTO -- The California Assembly voted Thursday to ban the use of lead ammunition when hunting wildlife.

The ban would be the first of its kind in the country, said Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States. She said there's no excuse for continuing to use toxic lead for hunting.

“We’ve taken it out of paint, gasoline, pencils, toys," Fearing said. "It doesn’t need to be in ammunition either.”

The bill (AB 711) was approved, 44-21, in a vote that broke down largely along party lines, with most Republicans standing in opposition. The measure now goes to the state Senate for further consideration.

If it's approved and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the ban would be phased in over two years, from July 2014 to July 2016.

The state already bans the use of lead ammunition for hunting big game and coyotes in places where California condors live. Activists say the birds can be poisoned when they eat the carcasses of animals that have been shot with lead.

Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), the bill’s author, said he wants to make sure other animals receive the same protection.

“We’re hoping we have a more vibrant and plentiful wildlife population in the state,” he said.

This story has been updated to specify that lead ammo is banned only for hunting big game and coyotes in areas where California condors live.

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Twitter: @chrismegerian