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Scavenged Bullets Dooming Condors
ScienceNOW ^ | 25 June 2012 | Elizabeth Norton

Posted on 06/25/2012 5:28:56 PM PDT by neverdem

Enlarge Image
sn-condor.jpg
In danger. The California condor is threatened by lead poisoning from bullets in scavenged carcasses.
Credit: Joe Burnett

Spreading its wings to a 3-meter span, flying at a speed of up to 96 kph, and living as long as 60 years, the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is one of the world’s most magnificent birds. It’s also one of the rarest. Only 22 condors were alive in 1982, due to poaching, habitat destruction, DDT poisoning, and shooting by cattle ranchers who mistakenly believed that the carrion-eating birds were killing young calves. An intensive captive breeding program has increased the condors’ numbers to almost 400, about half of which are free flying. But the birds still suffer from lead poisoning caused by scavenging the carcasses of animals shot with lead-based ammunition. Unless this source of lead is eliminated, the birds will never survive without human help, a new study finds.

Unlike many other carrion eaters, condors feed predominantly on the remains of large animals, which are more likely to have been shot than roadkill or small animals partially eaten by larger ones. Even small amounts of lead can affect the nervous system and kidneys of birds, mammals, and humans. In condors, high levels of lead can shut down the digestive system, causing the birds to starve.

Ironically, the success of captive breeding and releasing programs may be masking the continuing danger of lead, says research toxicologist Myra Finkelstein of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Condors’ numbers have increased because captive birds have been released into the wild; only a few chicks have been “born free.” And even after release, the birds receive massive assistance from biologists, she explains. For example, condors are caught twice a year and tested for lead; those with excessive lead levels are taken to one of several zoos, treated, and released again. “This revolving door effect keeps us from seeing whether condors can survive without human help,” she says.

To get a better handle on the impact of lead poisoning, Finkelstein and colleagues checked over 1000 blood samples taken from 150 condors between 1997 and 2010. About 70% of birds had telltale signs of lead exposure, while nearly half of free-flying condors met the standard for lead poisoning, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By checking the lead levels in the birds’ feathers, which grow over a period of several months, the researchers also got an idea of how long the condors had been exposed. Analysis of 18 feathers showed the birds had lead exposure for 75% of the feather-growing period and lead poisoning for 30% of that time.

Finkelstein and colleagues verified that bullets were indeed the source of the lead. By analyzing “isotope ratios,” a sort of mineral fingerprint made of different forms of lead, the team found that the majority of free-flying condors had ratios that matched those found in ammunition. The same technique is used to identify sources of lead poisoning in humans, Finkelstein says.

To see whether the birds could cope with lead poisoning unassisted, the researchers constructed a population model that factored in various scenarios of lead exposure. “If current management efforts go on basically forever, the condor population will remain stable,” says Finkelstein. If lead ammunition is eliminated, she says, the birds can also survive without human help. On the other hand, with no human intervention and with lead exposure as it is now, the birds will go extinct, the model predicts.

“The science is solid and the conclusions inescapable—the condor will never be a free-living species as long as exposure to lead from ammunition continues,” says raptor biologist Patrick Redig of the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, who has served on condor recovery programs but was not involved in the new study.

In 2008, California banned the use of leaded bullets in the eight counties in which condors are found. But although lead levels have since declined in other birds with smaller territories and more varied diets, such as golden eagles and turkey vultures, the condors have not yet benefited from the limited ban. Condors can fly 240 kilometers in a day (far beyond the counties in which lead is banned). Throughout their long lives they eat 75 to 100 carcasses per year, and even a single exposure to lead is potentially fatal.

Efforts to ban lead-based ammunition throughout the United States have met with stiff resistance from gun users, according to toxicologist Michael Fry, who is now with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu but previously worked on condor issues with the American Bird Conservancy in Washington, D.C. In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating toxic components of ammunition. “Lead-free versions are available for just about every type of ammunition, and many gun users like them better,” says Fry. The bullets are more expensive, he admits. However, condor-protection programs cost an estimated $5 million per year, most of it paid for by state and federal taxes, according to the study authors. Fry notes that although lead alternatives cost just two or three cents more, a box of lead-free bullets is currently 50% higher, probably more expensive because they’re not yet in widespread use.

Finkelstein is hopeful that communication may succeed where legislation fails. Some condor-protection groups are conducting outreach programs that invite hunters to use nontoxic bullets, and Finkelstein says the hunters’ responses are encouraging.

*This item was updated to add that Michael Fry previously worked at the American Bird Conservancy in Washington, D.C, and to provide further explanation about the price of lead-free bullets.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Testing; US: California
KEYWORDS: banglist; condors; lead; leadbullets; leadpoisoning
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1 posted on 06/25/2012 5:29:03 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Let me just start off by saying this sounds like a bunch of politically motivated ... Bull.


2 posted on 06/25/2012 5:30:59 PM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network (America doesn't need any new laws. America needs freedom!)
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To: neverdem

Adapt or die.


3 posted on 06/25/2012 5:32:16 PM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is, it is the only answer.)
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To: neverdem

Condors don’t even look very smart.


4 posted on 06/25/2012 5:32:29 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (America! The big pinata!)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network

Is it a coincidence that we have learned in ONE week that shooting caused the wildfires in the west AND that shooting kills endangered species.

If Zero is reelected, they are going to close down public lands for shooting. That will include Forest Service and BLM lands. This PR campaign is the start of that effort.


5 posted on 06/25/2012 5:33:15 PM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: neverdem

The alternative plan to ‘Fast & Furious’?


6 posted on 06/25/2012 5:34:09 PM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: neverdem

EPA back door approach to g bullet control.
Hey epa,,,,F you


7 posted on 06/25/2012 5:34:24 PM PDT by Joe Boucher ((FUBO) Hey Mitt, F-you too pal)
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To: neverdem
We need to switch to uranium bullets to save the condors.

Plus they'll glow in the dark so they'll be pretty at night.

8 posted on 06/25/2012 5:35:44 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it and the law is what WE say it is.)
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To: neverdem

It is the Condor’s job to adapt to its environment. If its environment includes things it might eat that are toxic, it should learn not to eat those things.


9 posted on 06/25/2012 5:36:46 PM PDT by elkfersupper ( Member of the Original Defiant Class)
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To: neverdem

More agenda driven junk science to take away your bullets.

Pray for America


10 posted on 06/25/2012 5:37:44 PM PDT by bray (Power to We the People)
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To: neverdem

I say BS.

My dog could eat a piece of cheese and drop the embedded medicine pill on the floor every time.

Vultures and birds of prey rip the flesh away from the carcass. The likelihood of ingesting a bullet is about zero.

The whole issue of waterfowl ingesting lead is another bogus claim.


11 posted on 06/25/2012 5:39:17 PM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: neverdem

Probably more condors are killed by windmills than lead poisoning anyway.


12 posted on 06/25/2012 5:40:02 PM PDT by Menehune56 ("Let them hate so long as they fear" (Oderint Dum Metuant), Lucius Accius (170 BC - 86 BC))
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To: neverdem

I know nothing about Condors but I do know that their cousin the Turkey Buzzard DO kill baby calves. They come for the after birth and then peck the eyes out of the calves when they are only a few minutes old. I am willing to bet that Condors do the same thing.


13 posted on 06/25/2012 5:41:11 PM PDT by Ditter
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To: Cringing Negativism Network

It looks like Bull, because it is bull.


14 posted on 06/25/2012 5:43:41 PM PDT by Venturer
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To: neverdem
Fast and Furious was going to be their path to banning guns but it didn't work out, so they have to come up with some other scam to make it happen.
15 posted on 06/25/2012 5:44:45 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: neverdem

Eating lead in the form of a bullet would not be that poisonous I would not think. I wound think it would go though a condor rather quickly!!! Unless he was eating it coming out of the barrel of a rifle!!


16 posted on 06/25/2012 5:45:55 PM PDT by ontap
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To: neverdem

They have to get by those windmills before they even have to worry about eating bullets!!!


17 posted on 06/25/2012 5:47:48 PM PDT by ontap
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To: neverdem

I don’t see how this affects me. I don’t eat condors.


18 posted on 06/25/2012 5:54:21 PM PDT by umgud (No Rats, No Rino's)
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To: SJackson

outdoor ping


19 posted on 06/25/2012 5:58:30 PM PDT by randita
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To: Menehune56

Antifreeze does a number on condors too.....


20 posted on 06/25/2012 6:02:19 PM PDT by pointsal
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To: neverdem

Scavenging the carcases of animals shot by bullets.

Yup makes perfect sense to me! If I haul myself up to the San Gabriels and shoot a mulie, for sure I’m going to leave the carcass behind so a giant buzzard can eat the bullet.


21 posted on 06/25/2012 6:02:46 PM PDT by DBrow
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
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Alzheimer's gene 'diabetes link'

Genetic Variants Build a Smarter Brain

Injected proteins protect mice from radiation poisoning

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

22 posted on 06/25/2012 6:04:37 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

Condors are another of the Left’s pet species, along with whales, dolphins, spotted owls, polar bears, etc.. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if every last one of them was turned into feather dusters. Really. Would any of us notice, other than from the wailing coming from the bunny-huggers?


23 posted on 06/25/2012 6:05:01 PM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: ModelBreaker

No coincidence at all. Looks like a coordinated media rollout.


24 posted on 06/25/2012 6:05:13 PM PDT by DBrow
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To: neverdem
This is old news. The Environmental Greenies have been beefing about this in California for decades and want to ban conventional ammunition. Their ban is based on junk science, but that's never bothered them. BTW, lead is a NATURALLY occurring element. Duh.
25 posted on 06/25/2012 6:07:14 PM PDT by MasterGunner01 (11)
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To: neverdem

It is sad when the survival of 400 birds is more important than the freedom of the entire country. But then, it isn’t about the birds, it’s about backdoor gun control.


26 posted on 06/25/2012 6:08:38 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.)
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To: neverdem

In the movie “Only Angels Have Wings” , Carry Grant’s fly-buddies would throw dynamite to dislodge condors
to keep the mountain pass clear,, er it ....was a movie
, but it was fun to see big stupid birds floppin .. i guess..

probably used buzzards instead now that i think about it..


27 posted on 06/25/2012 6:09:57 PM PDT by urtax$@work (The only kind of memorial is a Burning memorial !)
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
“The science is solid and the conclusions inescapable..."

Yep, that is the clear giveaway that this is politically motivated BS.

28 posted on 06/25/2012 6:10:27 PM PDT by dmcnash (y)
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To: neverdem

Lead poisoning is not caused by ingesting a chunk of metalic lead. That lead passes right through you. You get lead poisoning from longterm exposure to lead in the air, water, and objects you are constantly touching. I suppose it may be different for birds since they have a gizzard. maybe chunks of lead are ground up in a gizzard. But why is it birds never had a problem going extinct until now? Obviously there is something other than lead bullets causing these birds to die off.


29 posted on 06/25/2012 6:11:29 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
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To: elkfersupper

Now you know fully well that a Condor is not capable of such identification.

But just the same, I dispute the findings of this report. It is riddled with junk science, and is agenda driven. Namely an attack on ammunition, if not firearms. Obviously, what good is a weapon if you’ve nothing to shoot through it.

There is no empirical evidence to support their assertions. How many hunters shoot something, then leave it to rot in the sun? I shoot Bambi, and I don’t get a clean shot and he runs, I will track him for as longs as is practical to find the carcass.

Carrion my arse.


30 posted on 06/25/2012 6:12:47 PM PDT by Ouderkirk (Democrats...the party of Slavery, Segregation, Sodomy, and Sedition)
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To: dmcnash

This is what scientific ignorami do with the empirical sciences, which can tell you a calculated likelihood that something is true but cannot make such qualitative statements.


31 posted on 06/25/2012 6:12:54 PM PDT by raccoonnookkeeper (I keep raccoons in a nook!)
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To: neverdem
Only 22 condors were alive in 1982...

How the hell would anyone know that? Just more bullshit from the people who think we should all exit the planet...except them.

FMCDH(BITS)

32 posted on 06/25/2012 6:17:24 PM PDT by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Ouderkirk

Birds that are shot and fall in an inaccessible area, or do not suffer enough of a shot wound to fall at once, could contribute some to the problem. Big game, very unlikely.


33 posted on 06/25/2012 6:19:07 PM PDT by raccoonnookkeeper (I keep raccoons in a nook!)
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To: neverdem

If Condors go extinct in the US what is the loss besides the funding that goes for their protection?


34 posted on 06/25/2012 6:19:43 PM PDT by Rebelbase (The most transparent administration ever is clear as mud.)
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To: ModelBreaker

Remember, Eric Holder said “we must brainwash people against guns”, and that’s done by repeating lies and disinformation.


35 posted on 06/25/2012 6:22:08 PM PDT by DBrow
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To: neverdem

Planted evidence... think globull warming.

LLS


36 posted on 06/25/2012 6:32:30 PM PDT by LibLieSlayer (Don't Tread On Me)
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To: neverdem


Click the pic
37 posted on 06/25/2012 6:36:54 PM PDT by BIGLOOK
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To: ModelBreaker
Is it a coincidence that we have learned in ONE week that shooting caused the wildfires in the west AND that shooting kills endangered species.

Don't forget the recent story that OSHA has started to go after gun ranges for "lead exposure".

38 posted on 06/25/2012 6:43:03 PM PDT by VeniVidiVici (Congrats to Ted Kennedy! He's been sober for two years now!!)
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To: neverdem
I would like to hereby volunteer the bird lovers to offer themselves up as lead free scavenge feed.

It's saving the planet man!

39 posted on 06/25/2012 6:48:26 PM PDT by rawcatslyentist ("Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one," Jeremiah 50:31)
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To: SampleMan

“My dog could eat a piece of cheese and drop the embedded medicine pill on the floor every time.”

Ain’t that the truth! The only way we could get our dog to take his pills was to crush them up and then hide the powder inside peanut butter :)


40 posted on 06/25/2012 6:49:43 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: neverdem
““The science is solid and the conclusions inescapable”

Where have we heard something like that before?

I saw a show about this recently. They were rehabbing Condors who were hooked on lead. Treating them with some chemicals to get rid of the lead?

Common sense tells me that their numbers are BS. How many hunters are out there killing big game and not harvesting the game? The birds search the carcasses for the bullets and always find and east it? What about all the other scavengers? They never get the lead FIRST? “Heh, you Buzzard,leave that lead for the Condors”. Oh, I forgot..... Condors ARE Buzzards.

41 posted on 06/25/2012 6:50:51 PM PDT by faucetman ( Just the facts, ma'am, Just the facts)
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To: Boogieman

Yep, I finally arrived at peanut butter too. Even a dog that is too sick to eat will clean a dab of peanut butter off the roof of his mouth.


42 posted on 06/25/2012 6:59:59 PM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: neverdem
Anyone who hunts varmints in the Condor range already has to use lead-free ammo. This is the law since 2007. Lead-free (tin) based ammo is available for insignificant money in .17HMR and .22LR and .22WMR. I also have a few boxes of lead-free .223 but I don't use that caliber here due to a restriction imposed by the owner of the land. In the northern counties I can use the regular .223.
43 posted on 06/25/2012 7:07:48 PM PDT by Greysard
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To: neverdem

I call BS


44 posted on 06/25/2012 7:45:35 PM PDT by the_daug
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To: neverdem

I’d like to see their raw data.


45 posted on 06/25/2012 7:52:51 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: neverdem
This is unmitigated BS. CA condors faced FAR more lead in carrion over 150 years ago, when nearly all CA residents used guns to hunt in flat-land condor-feeding territories - particularly in flat areas (near condor nesting in the mountains) where condors found the greatest amount of their diet.

The difference in years gone-by was the much greater use of shotguns for hunting game birds that were quite plentiful in the San Joaquin Valley. Many a bird didn't die from shotgun injuries, so did not get collected by hunters - condors found and ate them in great numbers, yet didn't decline in numbers until mankind occupied greater and greater amounts of landscape, turning condor hunting grounds into urban areas squeezing out near all wildlife.

There's another problem with the lead-poisoning theory - that other buzzards don't seem to suffer from the same lead poisoning elsewhere - in NM, AZ, TX, buzzard populations seem quite healthy - and plentiful. I travel to these states frequently and several times seen CA condors in AZ and NM, apparently doing quite well! There's no mistaking them - they're much larger than the average buzzard. Look for them in the mountains and valleys within mountains. And, to really push the envelope, I would bet there are more people per capita using guns on a regular basis in these states.

Last there is the fact that CA condors will come very close to the the ground and 'hover' over perceived carrion - when humans with guns are present. So close in fact, many hunters will shoot at them - thinking they are dangerous when they certainly aren't - or just 'for practice.' I witnessed such human behavior far more than once 25-30 years ago as an avid hunter, where condors were frequently seen.

46 posted on 06/25/2012 7:59:39 PM PDT by Ron C.
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To: umgud
I stopped eating condors when it got harder to find them, much like the spotted owl.
But now that the greenies have increased their population I will start up again.
My outdoor rotisserie awaits.
47 posted on 06/25/2012 8:04:20 PM PDT by MaxMax
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To: mamelukesabre
I suppose it may be different for birds since they have a gizzard. maybe chunks of lead are ground up in a gizzard. But why is it birds never had a problem going extinct until now?

I'd like to see the results of autopsies with special attention to gizzards. Metallic lead is fairly unreactive.

48 posted on 06/25/2012 9:11:00 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

We are to believe hunters shoot animals and then leave them where they fall? So there is a sport where people shoot to kill for the thrill? Sounds more like the inner city.


49 posted on 06/25/2012 10:31:26 PM PDT by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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To: neverdem

We are to believe hunters shoot animals and then leave them where they fall? So there is a sport where people shoot to kill for the thrill? Sounds more like the inner city.


50 posted on 06/25/2012 10:31:33 PM PDT by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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