Lead Free: Settlement Protects California Condors from Lethal Lead

NRDC and CBD help to extend lead ammo ban to protect iconic birds
LOS ANGELES (December 3, 2008) – A settlement announced today between environmentalists and the State of California will strengthen protections for California condors by placing limits on the use of lead ammunition throughout the species’ range. Lead ammunition is a significant threat to the big birds because they are likely to scavenge prey that has been shot with the heavy metal. Studies show that ingesting lead causes reproductive problems and death for this majestic and endangered bird of prey. Recent reports show a similar problem for Grizzly bears in the Northern Rockies.
After the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and other groups filed suit, the legislature responded by providing substantial protections for the bird through the Ridley-Tree Condor Conservation Act with limits on the use of lead ammunition throughout much of the condors’ range. Today’s settlement with the California Department of Fish and Game and the California Fish and Game Commission extends these protections by eliminating lead ammunition for depredation hunting. The Commission has also agreed to consider prescribing a similar ban on lead ammunition for the hunting of small mammals that are part of the condors’ diet, such as jack rabbits and opossums. The settlement still requires court approval.
“We are all aware of the danger lead poses to humans. We’ve taken the lead out of paint. We’ve taken it out of gas. The science confirms the same threat to condors, so it was time to offer the same kinds of protection for one of this state’s best conservation stories, the endangered California condor,” said NRDC staff attorney Damon Nagami.
“We’re happy that the State of California is taking this positive step to further protect this iconic species. Unfortunately, many other species, as well as people, are harmed by lead ammunition every day, so we look forward to working with the state to further these protections and get the lead out of all ammunition,” said Adam Keats of the Center for Biological Diversity.
California Condors
North America’s largest species of land birds nearly went extinct in the 1980s and 90s. Thanks to reintroduction, a small population can now be found near the Grand Canyon, northern Baja California, and in western California. More information is available at: http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/habitat/esa/california03.asp