Managing the Lead Threat
Managing the lead threat is paramount to the full recovery of the California Condor population. Even after legislation banned the use of lead ammunition within the condor range, we documented cases of lead toxicosis in condors. For example, one condor died in 2012 after ingesting a .22-caliber lead bullet. This type of bullet is widely used to shoot ground squirrels and other non-game mammals. Despite the growing abundance of non-lead ammunition products for most hunting calibers, availability of non-lead .22 LR ammunition remained inconsistent years after the ban was enacted. We mitigate the lead threat by providing free non-lead ammunition to hunters and ranchers, including .22 LR and other calibers that are difficult to find. We also monitor movement patterns of the flock to identify potential lead exposure sites, provide a lead-free supplemental food source, and facilitate treatment for condors discovered with symptoms of lead poisoning.