California Condors Face Threat of Lead Poisoning

By Michael Graham Richard, TreeHugger

Good News Followed by Bad

It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about the ongoing success story of the California Condor. After almost going extinct, its population has rebounded to over 400 individuals, making it more viable for the long-term. But that recovery is under threat from lead poisoning; indeed, condors scavenge and often end up eating carcasses that have been shot with lead pellets.

Lead poisoning remains a critical danger, and efforts to limit the use of lead bullets by hunters in California in the past few years have not cut down on the number of chronic poisoning cases, said researchers.

“We will never have a self-sustaining wild condor population if we don’t solve this problem,” said first author Myra Finkelstein, a research toxicologist at the University of California Santa Cruz.

“Currently, California condors are tagged and monitored, trapped twice a year for blood tests, and when necessary treated for lead poisoning in veterinary hospitals, and they still die from lead poisoning on a regular basis.”

About one out of three condor blood test shows signs of serious lead poisoning. This is serious, and “without chelation therapy to remove lead from the blood, birds can suffer paralysis, stiff joints and lose their ability to fly. At high levels, lead poisoning can kill.”

If only the state enforced better its partial ban on the use of lead ammunition in condor habitat, a law that passed in 2008, things might get better. But as it is, the iconic California Condor is fighting a tough battle for its very survival.

(Via AFP)


California Condors Soaring Again
California Condor Population Increases
Cassowaries Recovering After Cyclone
Testing Lead Levels in Baby Bald Eagles


Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege5 years ago

So sad. This wouldn't happen if weapons were not allowed (I speak from Europe, where they are not allowed).

Tom Rose
Thomas Rose5 years ago

Noted but with sadness and despair. I hope thata ban on lead in shells will some day be in effect.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

very sad

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you"

You cannot currently send a star to Nyack because you have done so within the last week.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago


Gabriella Bertelmann
G Bertelmann5 years ago

thank you for that. I am not in favour of guns, or lead ammunition, so I hope there will be a change in that area, as we truly need to conserve all the species we have left - with so many being lost continually.

Lucie G.
Lucie G5 years ago

great news that their numbers have increased. But so sad that they are at risk from lead poisoning. Perhaps if they put a poster up in every gun shop where you buy the bullets listing the risks it may help encourage hunters to buy an alternative lead free bullet.