Over Two Thirds of Fatalities of Endangered California Condors Caused by Lead Poisoning

by Larry Jordan on February 11, 2012

California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) photo by Phil Armitage (Wikipedia)

Here is another no-brainer for you. A new study authored by San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research scientists has found that 67 percent of adult condor deaths are attributable to lead poisoning!

The massive effort to save the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) was initiated in 1982 when the remaining 22 wild birds were captured in a last-ditch effort to save the species. Of the 390 condors that exist today, 210 are in the wild, with 118 in California, 73 in Arizona and 19 in Mexico.

The American Bird Conservancy has analyzed almost 500, mostly peer-reviewed studies, and determined that the source of the vast majority of lead poisoning of birds and other wildlife is lead ammunition from hunting.

Darin Schroeder, Vice-President for Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy said, “Here we have another peer-reviewed study with independent scientists confirming that lead is needlessly and tragically killing protected wildlife. While the nation has removed the lead from paint, gasoline, children’s toys, water pipes, and even car wheel weights, we are still using toxic ammunition. Acceptable lead-free alternatives exist, and we need every hunter in America to make the switch to save the lives of countless non-game birds.”

Co-author of the study, Joseph Brandt, supervisory biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura said, “Here again, we are at another crossroads. We have a (wild) population established, and now we need to face down or correct the threats that we see the population being exposed to.”

Brandt didn’t know how much money has been spent on condor recovery efforts since the start, but he said investment by the federal government and its partners today tops $1 million annually.

Why can’t we ban lead ammunition in America? I mean, really? Is this a no-brainer or what?

We have spent the last 30 years trying to save the California Condor from extinction and doing a pretty damn good job of it, but we can’t get politicians to pass laws banning a poisonous ammunition that is not only killing condors but countless other species as well?

Here are a few related stories:

EPA says no to lead ammo ban

Senators Battle Environmentalists Seeking to Ban Lead in Ammunition

EPA Surrenders to NRA on Gun Control Issue

If you want to know which congressmen get the most kickback from the gun industry, check this out.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mia McPherson February 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

It is a no brainer, if we want these majestic birds to survive we need to ban lead shot!


Kathiesbirds February 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

Really, this is a no-brainer and why would anyone object to it if there is a safer alternative?


Larry February 13, 2012 at 6:49 pm

@Mia and Kathie obviously the only solution is to ban lead shot and the only thing stopping this change is the hunting lobby claiming the safe alternative is too expensive. Really? Too expensive? We are spending at least a million dollars annually on the California Condor alone. I think to save money, hunters could cough up another couple of bucks for a box of bullets. Like they’re going to stop hunting if the price of bullets goes up. Right!


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