Saturday, May 23, 2009

California Condor Endangered Due To Lead Poisoning

Image courtesy of: Audubon Arizona (The California Condor © Chris Parish, Peregrine Fund)

On July 11, 2007, Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and Ventana Wildlife Society issued a joint press release highlighting a Statement of Scientific Agreement. It has already been accepted that lead ammunition causes lead poisoning and eventual death in California Condors. The press release stressed the importance of a broad coalition of scientists backing the conclusion that lead ammunition should be banned in condor country.

Audubon Arizona is partnering with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Peregrine Fund, Audubon California and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to disseminate information about lead toxicity and the California Condor. They will also disseminate information on the need to remove lead ammunition from the environment.

Here are the Condor statistics from 2007:

Condor Numbers (updated 4/26/07)
Total population 285
Captive population 144
Wild population 141
Arizona population 63
California population 69
Baja population 12

Many hunters are getting the message. Most apparently have switched to steel and copper shot; but, some farmers and ranchers who are worried about wild pigs and vermin harming their livelihood still use lead bullets. The lead ends up digested by some condors, leading to poisoning and eventual death.

In northern Arizona, condors are located primarily near the Vermilion cliffs and Grand Canyon. The Marble Canyon Important Bird Area is being considered for global designation based upon the importance of the canyon to condors.

A recent condor death from lead poisoning marked the 14th since 1992.

Image courtesy of: USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

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