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Lead Poisoning Index

Number of federal agencies that keep comprehensive statistics on wildlife lead poisonings: 0

Number of years after first reported incidents of lead poisoning of waterfowl at hunting sites that the United States banned lead shot for waterfowl hunting: 120

Minimum number of endangered California condors killed by lead poisoning since reintroduction efforts began in 1992: 30

Percentage of those lead-poisoning deaths confirmed or suspected to be from ingesting lead ammunition fragments: 100

Species of mammals, upland birds, raptors, waterfowl, amphibians and reptiles reported in scientific literature as being exposed or killed by ingesting lead shot, bullets, bullet fragments or prey contaminated with lead ammunition: 130

Fraction of free-flying California condors chronically exposed to dangerous lead levels and suffering toxicological effects from ingesting ammunition fragments: 1/3

Percentage of the 100 free-flying condors in California that have suffered from severe lead poisoning at least once: 90

Proportion of loon deaths in New Hampshire over the last two decades due to lead poisoning: More than half

Minimum number of bald eagles that die each year in Minnesota from ingesting lead ammunition fragments: 30

Percentage of the 120 injured eagles taken in by the Minnesota Raptor Center in 2011 with elevated blood lead levels: 85

Percentage of golden eagles and bald eagles sampled in a Montana study that had elevated blood-lead levels from ingesting shot from waterfowl hunting and fragmented lead bullets in ground squirrels: 85 and 97, respectively

Number of toxic spent lead shotgun pellets per acre littering popular hunting fields in Missouri: 400,000

Number of mourning doves shot each year by hunters in the United States: 20 million

Estimated number of mourning doves killed each year by lead poisoning from ingesting spent lead shot: 15 million

Number of the 40 states that allow dove hunting with some level of non-lead shot requirements specific to dove hunting: 16

Percentage of Grand Teton grizzly bears sampled during the 2009 hunting season that showed elevated blood lead levels: 46

Percentage of grizzly bears sampled outside of hunting season with detectable lead levels: 0

Number of Laysan albatross chicks killed each year by toxic lead-based paint chips from decaying military buildings at the former naval base on Midway Atoll: 10,000

Number of countries with regulations on the use of lead shot or ammunition for hunting as of 2000: 74

Pounds of donated venison in North Dakota and Minnesota recalled and destroyed by state health departments in 2007 due to contamination with lead ammunition fragments: 17,000

Factor by which the lead use and dependency of the average American in 1980 exceeded that of the ancient Romans: 10

Years after Ben Franklin deplored that nothing had been done to protect people from the "mischievous effect" of lead poisoning that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned lead in motor vehicle gasoline: 209

Percentage change of U.S. children with elevated blood-lead levels from 1970s to 1995, due to Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and regulation of lead in gasoline and other products: -83.8

Estimated reduction in lead exposure to waterfowl after 1991 federal regulations requiring non-toxic shot: 50 percent

Estimated number of ducks annually spared from fatal lead poisoning due to these regulations: 1.4 million



1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game and Arizona Game and Fish Department

2 Tranel and Kimmel. 2009. Impacts of lead ammunition on wildlife, the environment, and human health—A literature review and implications for Minnesota. In Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition: Implications for Wildlife and Humans. The Peregrine Fund.

3 Finkelstein et al. 2011. Lead Poisoning from Ingested Ammunition is Precluding Recovery of the Endangered California Condor.
Presentation at Society of Toxicology annual meeting, March 2011.

4 Sidor et al. Mortality of Common Loons in New England 1987 to 2000. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 2003. 39(2).

5 University of Minnesota Raptor Center.

6 Harmata and Restani. 1995. Environmental contaminants and cholinesterase in blood of vernal migrant bald and golden eagles in Montana. Intermountain Journal of Sciences 1(1):1-15.

7 Schulz et al. 2002. Spent-Shot Availability and Ingestion on Areas Managed for Mourning Doves. Wildlife Society Bulletin 30:112-120.
8 Schulz et al. 2006. Acute Lead Toxicosis in Mourning Doves. Journal of Wildlife Management 70:413-421.

9 D.J. Case & Associates. 2006. Non-Toxic Shot Regulation Inventory of the Untied States and Canada. Report to the Ad Hoc Mourning Dove and Lead Toxicosis Working Group. Final Report, August 2006.

10 Rogers et al. 2009. Lead ingestion by scavenging mammalian carnivores in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Extended abstract in Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition: Implications for Wildlife and Humans. The Peregrine Fund.

11 Finkelstein et al. 2003. Lead poisoning of seabirds: Environmental risks from leaded paint at a decommissioned military base. Environmental Science and Technology, 37: 3256-3260.

12 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lead Poisoning: A Historical Perspective.

13 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

14 Anderson et al. 2000. Ingestion of Lead and Non-Toxic Shotgun Pellets by Ducks in the Mississippi Flyway. Journal of Wildlife Management 64:848-857.


Photo by Scott Frier, USFWS