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Lead poisoning could kill celebrated California condor chick

By Gary Bogue
Friday, June 25th, 2010 at 6:25 am in California condors, Lead bullets.

Condor photo by Flickr user IvyMike used under a Creative Commons License.
condor1 IvyMike

Just got “Endangered Earth Online,”  my weekly e-newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity. And as usual, it contains an article (see below) I need to share with you concerning lead poisoning and California condors.

It’s really sad that lead poisoning is even a problem at all. It’s so easy to fix, you know … just STOP USING LEAD BULLETS! /Gary

Condor chick (USFWS)

From Endangered Earth Online, No. 518, June 24, 2010:
Lead Poisoning Could Kill Celebrated Condor Chick

The first endangered California condor chick to hatch inside a national park in more than a century has been severely lead poisoned, likely from eating carrion contaminated with lead-bullet fragments.

The condor chick and its male parent had to be taken from their nest at Pinnacles National Monument in California for intensive-care treatment this month due to toxic levels of lead in their blood. Researchers are also trapping the female parent to determine her lead levels. If the extremely high amounts of lead in the chick’s system are any indication, the little bird has probably been severely poisoned for more than half its life, and if it survives, it could suffer lasting neurological damage as a result.

There are currently only 91 released California condors in the wild in the bird’s namesake state. A Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit led to legislation in 2008 banning the use of lead ammunition for big-game and nongame hunting within the 15 counties comprising the condor’s California range. But this chick-poisoning incident — along with the lead-caused deaths of three condors in Arizona earlier this year and increasing research on lead effects on other wildlife — highlights the need for immediate regulations ending all use of lead ammunition in the country.

As long as lead persists in the environment, the future of the condor (and the health of other species, including people) remains in jeopardy.


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