For Immediate Release: April 12, 2007
Contact: Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185
California to Consider Lead-Free Ammunition to Protect California Condors
Fish and Game Commission Hearing on Revising Hunting Regulations April 13th
SAN FRANCISCO– Conservationists will urge the state of California to immediately end the use of toxic lead ammunition in the range of the critically endangered California condor at a California Fish and Game Commission hearing in Bodega Bay tomorrow, April 13th. The Commission will take public testimony on a Department of Fish and Game proposal to amend state game-hunting regulations to require non-lead ammunition in the condor range. The hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory Lecture Hall at 2099 Westside Road.
“It’s time to get the lead out of the condor range,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The condor is on the California state quarter as a symbol of our natural heritage, but if condors are to survive we need to stop poisoning their food supply with toxic lead ammunition.”
The Department of Fish and Game has proposed four alternatives to the Commission for amendments to state hunting regulations to reduce lead poisoning of condors. The Department’s preferred alternative would end the use of lead ammunition for hunting big game as well as non-game birds and mammals within the current condor range in California. Other alternatives include increasing the area of the regulations to include the historic condor range, requiring non-lead ammunition for hunting statewide, and no regulatory action.
The Center is urging the Commission to end the use of lead ammunition immediately for hunting in the condor range, where safe, reliable lead-free bullets and shot are readily available, as well as to phase out the use of all lead ammunition for hunting statewide to protect bald eagles, golden eagles, turkey vultures and other avian species that scavenge carrion.
The California condor is one of the world’s most endangered species. Only 127 of the birds currently fly free in the wild, 70 of them in California. Lead poisoning from ingesting lead ammunition found in carcasses is the leading cause of death for reintroduced condors. Since 1992 at least 15 condor deaths in California and Arizona are known or suspected to have been caused by lead poisoning, and on more than 75 occasions poisoned condors required invasive, life-saving chelation therapy to “de-lead” their blood after feeding on lead-tainted carcasses. Five scientific studies published in 2006 provide overwhelming evidence that the lead ammunition poisoning condors comes from carcasses and gut piles left behind in the condor range by hunters.
In 2005 the Center launched a “Get the Lead Out” campaign to eliminate lead bullets from condor habitat. The Center and a coalition of health and conservation organizations, hunters and American Indians filed a lawsuit against the state last fall for continuing to allow hunting with toxic lead ammunition. Safe, reliable non-lead bullets and shot made from copper and other materials are widely available for big-game hunting and perform as well or better than lead ammunition. Federal law already requires the use of non-lead shot when hunting waterfowl, due to widespread lead poisoning of both waterfowl and secondary poisoning of eagles.
In a recent Peregrine Fund study of deer killed by hunters, X-rays revealed that lead bullets explode into dozens of tiny pieces. Half the deer carcasses were riddled with at least 100 lead fragments, raising human health concerns for those eating wild game shot with lead ammunition.
More information about the lead poisoning threat can be found at www.savethecondors.org .
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, science-based nonprofit organization with 35,000 members dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org