As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Lead Ammo Poisons Condors in Grand Canyon

Douglas Main, Staff Writer
Date: 16 April 2013 Time: 11:54 AM ET

Critically endangered condors that live near the Grand Canyon are being poisoned by lead used in ammunition, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. So far this year, seven out of the 80 California condors that live in the area have died, and three of these deaths have been "definitively linked to lead poisoning from ingesting spent lead ammunition fragments in carrion, and lead poisoning is suspected in the other four deaths," according to the group. 

These raptors, the largest birds in North America, are especially vulnerable to poisoning from ammunition because they feed on dead animals, which have often been shot by hunters using lead bullets and shotgun pellets, studies on the birds have shown. The lead can then concentrate in their bodies, to devastating effect.

"Lead is dangerous to people and wildlife, even at very low levels, which is why it is critical that we take mandatory actions to remove it from ammunition and require less toxic alternatives," said Sandy Bahr, with the Sierra Club, in the statement.

Lead bullet fragments poison rare US condors

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent, BBC News

California condors are under continuing threat from lead ammunition fragments

Conservationists in the United States say that fragments of lead ammunition continue to take a desperate toll on one of the country's rarest birds.

Since December, seven wild California condors from a population of 80 have died in the Grand Canyon area.

Three of the deaths have been definitively linked to ingesting lead from bullets in the carcasses of prey.

Campaigners are calling for a ban on the use of lead ammunition on public lands.
 “The continuous deaths of Grand Canyon condors from lead poisoning is preventable, ”  Jeff MillerCentre for Biological Diversity

The California condor is one of the biggest US birds but is considered critically endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Carrion shooting
In an effort to save the high flying species, 166 of the birds have beenreintroduced in Arizona and Utah since 1996.

Of these, 81 have died or disappeared. But experts believe that at least 38 of the birds have died as a result of eating lead fragments left in the guts piles and carcasses of game, shot by hunters. Condors are scavengers and mainly eat large amounts of carrion.
Campaigners like Jeff Miller from the Centre for Biological Diversity say there are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk to the birds.

"The continuous deaths of Grand Canyon condors from lead poisoning is preventable if we finally treat toxic lead ammunition as we did lead paint and gasoline," he said.

Many of the condors require treatment each year as a consequence of lead exposure
Even though the Arizona Game and Fish Department distributes copper ammunition free to hunters, a small number continue to use lead. As a result each year up to half of the wild Grand Canyon condors require chelation treatment to remove high levels of lead from their blood.

"It is critical that we take mandatory actions to remove it from ammunition and require less toxic alternatives, said Sandy Bahr from the Sierra Club.

"Requiring non lead ammunition for hunting on public land would be an important step in limiting lead exposure for condors and other wildlife," she added.

A group of scientists, doctors and public health experts have recently issued a statement calling for lead ammunition for hunting to be phased out.

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