This morning the Los Angeles Times carried an article about three condors in Arizona that died from ingesting lead bullet fragments left behind in hunter-shot game.
This old, sad story is so unnecessary.
In 1984, it was first proved that condors—who are carrion eaters—were being poisoned when they inadvertently ingested lead bullet fragments left behind in deer or pigs or other game animals.
It turns out it’s not just condors that are affected but golden eagles and ravens and turkey vultures and dozens of other birds and mammals that scavenge at kill sites.
The commonsense solution—require hunters to use the excellent nonlead ammunition that is available—has been opposed by some gun groups. These organizations still don’t believe the Everest of evidence linking lead bullet fragments to the poisoning of wildlife, and they fear that requiring nonlead bullets somehow represents a threat to their right to hunt.
Now there’s more to this story. Recent research has shown that lead bullets have the potential to cause sub-lethal lead poisoning in humans who eat hunter-shot game. Here’s an article I wrote for Smithsonian telling this story.
California recently began requiring hunters to use nonlead bullets in condor country. It’s a model to emulate.
For the sake of condors and other wildlife as well as humans, it’s time to stop spreading tons of toxic lead bullets across our landscape.