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Endangered Condors Threatened With Lead Poisoning

PAGE, AZ - MARCH 22: A mature rare and endangered California condor looks up from a ledge high up a cliff in Marble Gorge, east of Grand Canyon National Park March 22, 2007 west of Page, Arizona. Condor managers taking blood samples from the 57 wild condors in Arizona both before and after hunting season find that all 57 condors test positive for contamination by lead matching the isotropic fingerprint of the lead commonly used in ammunition, and that those levels rise significantly by the end of the season. Many of the condors become so sick that biologists must re-capture them for lead-poisoning treatments. Several condors die each year. Experts believe the condors are ingesting the lead as they scavenge gut piles left behind hunters because lead bullets shatter and fragment inside the kill. Officials in Arizona are encouraging hunters to use copper bullets instead of lead-based ammunition and in California a coalition of conservation groups have sued the California Fish and Game Commission in an effort to force a ban on lead ammunition in Condor ranges. The condors in the Marble Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs area easily fly as far west as Lake Mead, by way of the Grand Canyon, and to Zion National Park and far into Utah. With a wingspan up to nine and a half feet, condors are the largest flying birds in North America. In 1982, when the world population of California condors dropped to only 22 and extinction was believed eminent, biologist captured them and began a captive breeding and release program which has increased the total population to 278, of which 132 now live in the wild in Arizona, California, and Baja California, Mexico. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Endangered Condors Threatened With Lead Poisoning : News Photo
Endangered Condors Threatened With Lead Poisoning : News Photo
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Credit:
David McNew / Staff
Editorial #:
73686652
Collection:
Getty Images News
Date created:
March 22, 2007
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Getty Images North America
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73651137DM033_Endangered_Co