Six More California Condors Suffer Lead Poisoning From Ammo, Three Die

Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210, bjohns@abcbirds.org

California Condor by Susan Haig

(Washington, D.C., June 2, 2011) Three more California Condors, among the most endangered birds in the world, have died from lead poisoning from ammunition, while three others were treated for lead poisoning, according to The Peregrine Funds Condor Recovery Program in Arizona. This brings the total number of condors killed by lead in the last 11 years to 19.  

This tragic news comes as little surprise for those of us engaged in the lead ammunition issue. We expect more condor, eagle, and other bird deaths as long as lead remains an ingredient in bullets and shot used for hunting, said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy.

Ammunition manufacturers have introduced superior nontoxic ammunition both for shotguns and for hunting rifles, and hunters report the newer nontoxic bullets outperform traditional ammunition.  The cost of nontoxic ammunition is now the same as for premium lead ammunition, that used by the majority of hunters.  The increase in performance at no additional cost should encourage hunters to switch to nontoxics, he said.

Ironically, this event comes at a time when some members of Congress are trying to initiate action (House Bill  HR 1558  and a Senate Bill %u2013 S.838.IS) that has the potential to further entrench the use of lead ammunition and result in additional poisoning of wildlife by preventing the U.S. EPA from regulating this highly toxic substance.
Approximately 30 condors were captured for testing after a hiker found one dead. Of those captured, five were found to have high levels of lead poisoning. Two of those later died. The San Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research performed the necropsies.

X-rays showed 18 shotgun pellets in the digestive system of one bird and six in another. The third had remains of a spent bullet in its system, all suggesting these scavengers died after eating one or more animal carcasses that had been shot, said Chris Parish, head of The Peregrine Fund%u2019s condor recovery program in Arizona.
The deaths come only weeks after a study by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the University of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service concluded that over one-third of the population of wild condors is chronically exposed to lead specifically identified by its chemical signature as being derived from spent ammunition.

Lead is a highly toxic substance that is dangerous to wildlife even at low levels. Exposure can cause a range of health effects, from loss of coordination and nerve damage to acute poisoning and death. Long-term effects can include mental retardation, reduced reproduction, and damage to neurological development.

Up to 10 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States, including Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Loons, Trumpeter Swans, and doves. This occurs when animals scavenge on carcasses shot and contaminated with lead bullet fragments, or pick up and eat spent lead shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit. Some animals die within days, while others suffer for years from leads debilitating effects.

Lead ammunition also poses health risks to people. Lead bullets fragment on impact into minute particles, spreading throughout game meat that people eat. X-ray studies show that hundreds of dust-sized lead particles can contaminate meat more than a foot and a half away from the bullet track. A recent study found that up to 87% of game killed by lead ammunition contains unsafe levels of lead when consumed by pregnant women or children. Nearly ten million hunters, their families, and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations may be at risk.

The wildlife community needs to do a better job of educating hunters to the long-term damage that lead ammunition can cause to both wildlife and humans, and in countering the false claims by the gun lobby that this is somehow a conspiracy to ban guns. We need those hunters who already know this to help spread the word among their fellow sportsmen and women that this is simply the right thing to do, said Fenwick.

The U.S. military recently announced their decision to switch to non-lead ammunition for certain small arms, calling the new bullets one of the greatest advancements in small arms ammunition in decades. This news undermines claims that non-lead ammunition is somehow inferior to lead-based ammo.
If its good enough for our soldiers on the field of battle, then lead-free ammunition should be good enough for us to hunt with, said Fenwick, himself a hunter.


American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization which conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.

Click here: Judge requires increased protections for endangered species on southern California national forests - Defenders of

Click here: Defenders of Wildlife

Click here: Contacting the Congress: A Citizen's Congressional Directory

Victory for California wildlife 6/1/11 - Defenders of Wildlife

LOS ANGELES  A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Endangered Species Act in preparing the biological opinions for the four Southern California forest plans. The ruling covers each of the four Southern California national forests  the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino, which cover more than 3.5 million acres of lands in Southern California. These forests are recognized as one of the most biologically rich areas on the planet, and were established to provide clean drinking water to the region.

This ruling is a great victory for the rare and endangered species that call the Southern California forests home, said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. These rare plants and animals are all currently moving toward extinction, and they need help- help that the federal agencies should have provided but chose not to during the Bush administration. We can now start making sure theyre properly protected.

The Forest Service revised the Forest Plans for these four national forests in 2005. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service provided biological opinions on the revised Forest Plans that failed to include required protective measures to minimize harm to the already endangered wildlife species. The agencies also failed to include any mechanism to track the level of harm to endangered species or establish limits on the amount of harm for each species to trigger the reinitiation of consultation on the plans if those limits were exceeded.

"National forests provide some of the biggest remaining chunks of wildlife habitat in Southern California," said Jeff Kuyper, executive director of Los Padres ForestWatch, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Santa Barbara, California. "For too long, federal land management agencies have emphasized development and resource extraction, exacting a heavy toll on our region's wildlife. Today's ruling recognizes the important role that our national forests play in the survival and recovery of endangered plants and animals, giving them the attention they so desperately deserve."

The decision will require greater protection for more than 40 plants and animals that are teetering on the brink of extinction. Species from the majestic California condor, rebounding from a low of only 28 birds in the mid 1980s, to the charming California gnatcatcher are threatened with declines based on the failure of the Forest Service to put in place the required safety nets to protect these irreplaceable species.

Land-management plans have impacts on the wildlife that live on our forests and thats what this opinion recognizes, said Kim Delfino, California director of Defenders of Wildlife. We hope this opinion will set a new tone for the Obama administration in recognizing this fact and providing wildlife on public lands the protections that they so desperately need.

The judge gave the parties 21 days to provide additional briefing on the appropriate relief for the troubled species while the federal agencies prepare new biological opinions.

The conservation community warned the Forest Service again and again that it was wrong in claiming that its forest plans do not affect our public lands. The plans are the Forest Services blueprint for how to manage our forests, and Judge Patel has held the federal government accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities to protect our imperiled natural heritage. The ruling is especially timely because the Forest Service is gearing up to revise forest-management plans throughout the Sierra Nevada, said Bill Corcoran, senior regional representative of the Sierra Club.

Plaintiffs in the case are the Center for Biological Diversity, Los Padres ForestWatch, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and California Native Plant Society.

The plaintiffs were represented in the case by Marc Fink of the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Weaver of Defenders of Wildlife.

Learn more about the lawsuit
Learn more about Defenders' work to protect national forests and other public lands


Dear Friends of the Animals: WHEN?

WHEN all the trees have been cut down, WHEN all the animals have been slaughtered & hunted,  WHEN all the   great birds are gone & have stopped singing, WHEN all the waters are polluted, WHEN all the whales, sharks  & fish are gone,  WHEN all the air is unsafe to breathe, WHEN all the rivers & oceans are contaminated from oil spills, WHEN the polar bears are gone,  WHEN all the mountains have been drilled & flattened, WHEN all our foodstuffs become unsafe to eat riddled with pesticides, WHEN we have failed to protect although warned of our endangered species, WHEN all the laws to protect animals from abuse & cruelty have failed,  WHEN the elephants, tigers & rhinos are gone; look to our own imminent demise. WHEN?

I encourage all of us to get involved with the law-making process. 

Our petitions are valuable & useful, but the muscle of all proposals resides in the law.  Please sign the petition to stop this inhumane and barbaric practice that causes suffering and allows the perpetrators to avoid hands-on responsibility and questions of conscience.  After signing the petition research your State as to what that policy & practice is; and if you don't like what your State is doing, TAKE ACTION!  CONTACT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE! TAKE ACTION!Thanking you,AnimalActionUSA

Sign Petition
Sign Petition
You have JavaScript disabled. Without it, our site might not function properly.

Privacy Policy

By signing, you accept Care2's Terms of Service.
You can unsub at any time here.

Having problems signing this? Let us know.