New study suggests that spent lead ammunition could make it impossible to recover the species
FRISCO — Accidental ingestion of spent lead ammunition is killing endangered California condors at a rate that may prevent the birds from establishing self-sustaining populations.
The condors were among the first animals to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. By 1966, the population had dropped to just a handful of birds, but a massive collaborative conservation effort helped the population grow to more than 400 individuals.
But those gains may be at risk, according to San Diego Zoo conservation biologists.
“After reviewing nearly 20 years of our mortality data on the free-ranging birds, it became clear that lead poisoning is the primary problem for the birds in the wild,” said Bruce Rideout, director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global.
“And this is not just a problem for California condors. We can view them as an indicator species, warning us about the hazards of widespread lead contamination in the environment.” said Bruce Rideout, director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global.
The recent study of lead impacts was done with researchers from the Wildlife Health Center at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis. The findings are published in the January edition of the journal EcoHealth.