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Eagles and Vultures Poisoned by Lead Ammo

Research studies conducted at UC-Davis have found scavenger birds such as eagles, condors and vultures are being poisoned when they eat carrion containing lead bullets or shot. This trend is not new, but the UC-Davis research provides confirmation of it in California. Animal remains left in the wild when a game animal is shot and cleaned sometimes contain the bullets or shot.

Also when hunters only wound a wild animal such as a deer or pig, and can’t track them, they die alone carrying the lead ammunition. In 2008 California banned lead ammo for hunters in condor habitat due to the rapid decline in the wild population. Lead poisoning contributed to their human-induced slide towards extinction, and is a threat to their recovery. In 1991 a ban on lead ammunition for waterfowl hunters went nationwide. Lead poisoning was also killing wild ducks, and golden eagles. Six years after it went into effect, it was estimated the ban saved 1.4 million wild ducks.

Bald eagles were also impacted as they had been consuming waterfowl contaminated with lead. Golden eagles also live in California Condor habitat and are at risk from consuming lead ammunition in carrion. “It just makes good sense to use non-toxic ammunition, wherever it is available, to protect wildlife as well as eliminate any potential risk to hunters and their families, said Christine Johnson, associate professor of veterinary medicine at University of California, Davis. Two of the UC-Davis researchers soon will begin to study the relationship between lead exposure and the health of endangered California condors.

Image Credit: Terra Kelly

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108 comments

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6:45AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

Ban hunting!

6:44AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

horrible

4:25AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Ban hunting.

9:34AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

We started working to ban lead shot in the 70s when it was discovered to be a water pollutant. It took until 1991 to be banned across the US. Apparently, that was only for waterfowl. I am sooooo disappointed to hear that lead is STILL being used. This is crazy. Our wildlife and our children suffer from this horrible pollutant. STOP!

12:29PM PST on Nov 29, 2011

Lead shot should be banned throughout the US. Where do I sign?

1:31PM PDT on Apr 26, 2011

Lead is to blame for the deaths of a swans here (in the UK) and I think it should be banned. I also think hunting should be banned - the people who hunt claim it's a sport, but sport is something that has two sides participating and both the sides know what is going on - animals and birds don't know, so it shouldn't be called a sport.

5:20AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

scary

5:20AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

scary

3:15AM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

Tricia, I doubt you'd ever convince most hunters that it isn't a "sport". I quite agree with you......to me, a "sport" is when each "side" has an equal chance, and it's hardly "equal" when one side is an animal unaware of being stalked and the other is using a high-powered rifle with a long-range scope.

However, hunting does have it's place, and many humans depend on it to sustain them with food. Banning hunting completely will never happen. We need to put pressure on the industry to stop using lead in the ammo to start with. Half the idiots who go out hunting never "bag" a thing, but far too many do, and unfortunately, they also just seriously wound far too many other animals, who wander off to die and the result is what we're talking about here.

5:53AM PDT on Apr 18, 2011

Hunting should be banned. It is not a sports guys!!!!

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