SACRAMENTO - June 30 - A new regulation goes into effect
tomorrow requiring hunters to use only non-lead ammunition when in the
endangered California condor’s habitat. The California Legislature passed the
historic measure last year to keep condors from becoming poisoned after
swallowing lead bullets or bullet fragments when they feed on animal carcasses
that have been shot with this highly toxic ammunition.
“Efforts to bring the critically endangered California condor
back from the brink of extinction have been severely hampered by the use of lead
in ammunition,” said Pamela Flick,
California program coordinator for
Defenders of Wildlife. “We’ve known about the dangers of lead for decades.
That’s why we keep it out of our homes and schools. Finally, we have taken steps
to protect imperiled wildlife and the environment from this toxic
More than 276 cases of lead poisoning have been documented in
California condors in the past
eight years. And at least seven cases have appeared this spring, with one
resulting in a death during treatment at the Los Angeles Zoo. While lead
poisoning ranks as the leading cause of death among
California condors, dozens more
deaths not directly caused by poisoning are likely related to lead exposure.
In recent years, studies have shown increased levels of lead
in many species of animals in condor habitat. The lead has even made a full
circle – elevated levels of lead exposure have also been observed in humans who
ate game killed with lead bullets or shot.
The new regulation covers the California condor’s current and
historic range, encompassing the horseshoe-shaped region from Big
Sur, south to Ventura
and east through the southern Sierra Nevada. All hunting
of big game, non-game mammals and non-game birds in the condor’s territory now
requires the use of non-lead centerfire ammunition certified by the California
Fish and Game Commission. More information about the area covered by the ban and
certified ammunition can be found at the Department of Fish and
Game’s Web site.
“We are grateful that the Legislature and commission have
taken this important action to protect one of
California’s most important
animals, the iconic condor, from lead poisoning and related deaths,” Flick said.
“California’s dedication to
educating hunters and keeping lead out of the environment will benefit wildlife
and humans for generations to come.”
more about what Defenders is doing for California condors.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than one million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.