Target: Arizona and Utah Game and Fish Departments
Goal: Save the California condor from lead poisoning.
Lead ammunition used for hunting in Utah and Arizona has been poisoning the California condor. In recent months, seven of the eighty wild condors living in the Grand Canyon area have died; of those deaths, three have been directly linked, and the other four are suspected to be linked, to lead poisoning from ingestion of spent ammunition fragments. While voluntary efforts on the part of the respective Game and Fish Departments have reduced the use of lead ammunition, a small number of hunters are still using it. If voluntary efforts cannot protect North America’s largest land bird, regulation must be enforced banning the use of lead ammunition before it’s too late.
Since 1996, nearly half of the 166 condors reintroduced to Utah and Arizona have died or disappeared, leaving the condor the most endangered land bird in North America. While the condor’s decline has been linked to a number of factors including, low clutch size (number of young per nest), late age of sexual maturity, poaching, egg collecting, and power lines, the leading cause of death is lead poisoning. Lead poisoning begins in the nest with parents feeding their young fragments of ammunition that remain in the carcasses of dead game left behind. Currently an estimated 38 condors have died in the two states from lead poisoning, with more suspected. Each year, half of the condors in the Grand Canyon region are given lifesaving treatment. Tragically, this treatment could not save the female of Utah’s only breeding pair of condors. This tragedy could have been avoided if regulation was set up to ban lead ammunition on public hunting land.
Currently, Arizona’s Game and Fish Department has a voluntary lead-reduction program which distributes lead-free ammunition to hunters for free. While many hunters make use of the free copper ammunition, a small group remains staunchly in favor of lead. In California where lead-free ammunition has been required for hunting in the condor’s range since 2008, there has been no decrease in game tags or hunting. There simply is no good reason to use lead ammunition. Since voluntary efforts to dispense with the use of lead ammunition have failed, Arizona and Utah must enact regulation to ban the use of lead ammunition. Sing the petition below to show your support for banning lead ammunition.
Dear Utah and Arizona Game and Fish Departments,
The use of lead ammunition for hunting in the Grand Canyon Region is having a serious negative impact on California condor populations. Of the 166 condors reintroduced to Arizona and Utah, nearly half have died or disappeared with lead poisoning suspected as the culprit. While attempts at voluntary programs such as free copper ammunition are commendable, they are not enough.
Recently, Utah’s only pair of breeding condors was separated by the death of the female bird. Again, the suspect is lead poisoning. Situations like this one have made the condor the most endangered bird in North America. The Grand Canyon must not become a graveyard for this majestic bird. Please take action to ban all lead ammunition for hunting.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Scott Frier via Wikimedia Commons