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For Immediate Release, December 3, 2008


Adam Keats, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 x304,
Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council, (312) 780-7424, (773) 853-5384 (cell),
Jessica Lass, Natural Resources Defense Council, (310) 434-2300, (202) 468-6718 (cell),

Lead-Free: Settlement Protects California Condors From Toxic Heavy Metal
Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council Help
Extend Lead-Ammunition Ban to Protect Iconic Birds

LOS ANGELES— A settlement announced today between environmentalists and the State of California will strengthen protections for California condors by placing limits on the use of ammunition containing lead 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 the cumulative effect of ingesting lead, a process called bioaccumulation, causes reproductive problems and ultimately death for this majestic and endangered bird of prey. Recent reports show a similar problem for grizzly bears in the northern Rockies.

After the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other groups filed suit, the state Legislature responded by providing substantial protections for the bird through the Ridley-Tree Condor Conservation Act, which limits 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 jackrabbits and opossums. The settlement still requires court approval.

“We’re happy that the State of California is taking this positive step to further protect this iconic species,” said Adam Keats, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. “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.”

“We are all aware of the danger lead poses to humans,” said Damon Nagami, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “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.”

California Condors

North America’s largest species of land birds nearly went extinct in the 1980s and ’90s. Thanks to reintroduction, small populations can now be found near the Grand Canyon; in northern Baja California, Mexico; and in western California. More information is available at: and

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.


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