October 5, 2009

Rare condors endangered by lead in carrion

Rare California condors living in Arizona and Utah are at risk due to lead bullets found inside the carrion the birds feed upon, wildlife officials say.

Kathy Sullivan of the Arizona Game and Fish Department said the 75 condors living in northern Arizona and southern Utah have begun feeding on the remains of deer and elk killed during hunting season, The Salt Lake Tribune said Sunday.

The lead bullets used to kill the animals have resulted in the deaths of at least 12 of the birds due to lead poisoning during recent years, she said.

They key in on fall hunting season because they know there will be gut piles in the field from these deer hunts, Sullivan said.

To help protect the rare condors, wildlife officials are attempting to urge hunters to use non-lead ammunition, which is more costly and has different shooting characteristics.

Bob Hasenyager of the non-profit foundation Utah Wildlife in Need, told the Tribune that Arizona has had some success pushing for the use of non-lead ammunition by hunters.

It is our goal to duplicate that success and for Utah to take a greater role in the recovery of these magnificent birds, Hasenyager said.