Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 12, 2016

Contacts:  Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6405,
Sandy Barr, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, (602) 999-5790,
Allison LaPlante, EarthRise Law Center, (503) 768-6894,

Appeals Court: Lead Ammunition Case in Kaibab National Forest Can Continue

Lead Poisoning Is Leading Cause of Death of Condors in Southwest

TUCSON, Ariz.— The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled in favor of conservation groups allowing a lawsuit to move forward challenging the use of lead hunting ammunition in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest. Poisoning from lead ammunition is the leading cause of deaths for endangered California condors in the region.

In 2012, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, represented by Earthrise Law Center, sued the Forest Service because its failure to regulate spent lead ammunition is endangering to wildlife, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Today’s 9th Circuit ruling overturns a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit in 2013, holding that the conservation groups did in fact have standing to bring the suit. The case is now remanded back to the district court.

“Lead ammo has taken a long, terrible and deadly toll on California condors and it’s time for it to stop. Kaibab National Forest can, and must, do something about it,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We will never save these beautiful birds unless we fix the lead problem.”

Use of lead ammunition endangers wildlife on the Kaibab. The Forest Service has refused to regulate the use of lead ammunition, contributing to poisonings of condors and other wildlife that scavenge on animal remains contaminated by spent lead shot.

“This decision is good news for everyone who cares about protecting lands, wildlife and the public health,” Sandy Bahr, chapter director at the Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter. “Lead ammunition is a dangerous toxin that harms wildlife, including endangered condors. It is time we move toward less-toxic alternatives. Today's decision takes us a step closer to that.”

“Today’s 9th Circuit decision allows this important case of first impression to move forward,” said Allison LaPlante, senior staff attorney at Earthrise Law Center. “The law is clear: The Kaibab can, and must, take action to protect endangered California Condors from toxic lead ammunition.”

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