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Will lead-bullet ban take effect in time to save the California Condor?


On July 1, a ban on lead bullets takes effect in California. The legislation is intended to protect the endangered California Condor, which often ingests poisonous amounts of lead when eating the carcasses of animals shot by hunters.

But with less than four weeks to go until the ban kicks in, seven condors have recently been felled by lead poisoning -- one of them fatally. The seven birds represent 20% of their Southern California population, and as much as 3% of the birds' entire wild population. Just 200-300 California Condors remain in the wild, about three dozen of which live in the area where the poisoned birds were found. (Well, three dozen minus one.)

While the source of the lead poisoning hasn't been officially declared, it was most likely from lead bullets, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As I have written here before, the process of detoxifying poisoned condors is both expensive and painful, and not always successful.

Twenty-seven days until the ban is official. I hope the remaining birds can hold out that long.