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Restoring the California Condor

September 26, 2017

Reducing lead ammo may restore California condors.

Transcript

Reducing the use of lead ammunition will make it feasible to reintroduce condors in Northern California. C. West

Reducing the use of lead ammunition will make it feasible to reintroduce condors in Northern California. (C. West)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Reestablishing condors. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Thirty years ago, the California condor, the largest land bird in North America, went extinct in the wild. Since then, captive breeding programs have reintroduced several hundred birds into the southwest. Wildlife biologist Chris West, who works for the Yurok Tribe Wildlife Program in California, reports that the birds may be able to return to the northwest as well, if hunters switch from lead ammunition to non-toxic alternatives.

CHRIS WEST (Yurok Tribe Wildlife Program):

It only takes a very small amount of lead to cause lead toxicosis in a condor to the point where it will actually die.

HIRSHON:

West found that in Northern California, the blood lead levels in scavenging birds like turkey vultures and ravens rose sharply during hunting season. He says making the area safe for condors, will mean winning the support of conservation-minded hunters. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon

Learn more about the study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications