Conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Wildland Council have notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of their intent to file a lawsuit over the agency’s failure to protect endangered California condors from lead poisoning in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest.
Scientists unanimously believe that lead ammunition left behind by hunters that enters the food chain is the leading cause of death for condors. In 2006, 95 percent of the population had suffered from lead exposure in Arizona and 70 percent was treated for it, while an estimated 12 to 14 have died from lead poisoning, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
In addition to condors, lead poisoning is an issue that adversely affects a variety of species, but despite the fact that safer alternatives to lead ammunition exist, hunters continue to use it and millions of animals continue to get sick and die unnecessarily from poisoning every year. While measures have been taken to regulate lead in some areas, and for some types of hunting, the USFWS has failed to regulate its use on public lands in Arizona and continues to allow its use in an area that is vital to the California condors survival and recovery, even though it has the authority and obligation to make changes in order to protect threatened or endangered species.
“At a time when other agencies are stepping up efforts to get toxic lead out of the food chain, the U.S. Forest Service continues to bury its head in the sand, refusing to exercise its authority to protect wildlife on its lands and prevent the needless lead poisoning of Arizona’s condors,” said Jay Lininger, a conservation advocate with the Center. “If we want condors to survive, we must stop using ammunition that contaminates their food supply with toxic lead, especially on our national forests.”
According to a statement from the Center for Biological Diversity, the groups hope to work with the USFWS to solve this problem, but will continue with the lawsuit if no solution is reached.
Get the Lead Out!
Please sign the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition urging the Environmental Protection Agency to help stop the senseless poisoning of our wildlife by regulating lead hunting ammunition.
Photo credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region