07 May 2013: Report

Will Lead Bullets Finally
Kill Off the California Condor?

The California condor, the largest bird in North America, was saved from extinction by a captive breeding program that increased its numbers in the wild. But now the condor is facing a new and pernicious threat — the lead from bullets used by game hunters.

by ted williams

It was almost like watching wooly mammoths parting tusk-high savannah. In the gusty air above the Grand Canyon relicts from the Ice Age wheeled and dipped. Through my binoculars I could make out numbers on the wing tags of these California condors, North America’s largest and arguably most endangered bird.

By 1982 only 22 remained on the planet. Then in a decision that outraged a large element of the environmental community, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that all condors would be evacuated from the wild and bred in captivity. Friends of the Earth founder David Brower pled for “death with dignity.” But in 1993 the Peregrine Fund, a conservation organization, took on captive breeding, and the program proved a stunning success. After only three years, condor releases started in northern Arizona.

View gallery
California Condor

George Lamson/Shutterstock
Today 234 California condors are living in the wild, 194 of them captive bred.
Today 234 birds are living in the wild (194 of them captive bred), but the prognosis for the species is scarcely brighter than in 1982; they’re being poisoned. When lead bullets strike bone they tend to splinter, impregnating meat and entrails with toxic fragments, any one of which can kill a condor. All manner of carrion-eating birds and mammals feast on the poisoned gut piles left when hunters field dress game.

On April 16, 2013 a bill to ban lead hunting ammo in California passed its first hurdle when the Parks and Wildlife Committee of the state assembly approved it by a 9 to 5 vote. Without such a ban, extinction of the California condor is inevitable, according to a 2012 study by the National Academy of Sciences.

When vertebrates ingest lead, their bodies mistake it for calcium and beneficial metals, incorporating it into vital tissues. Symptoms include anemia, convulsions, paralysis, and deterioration of brain, eyes, kidneys, and liver. Humans generally survive lead poisoning, albeit with diminished motor and cognitive capacity. (Research indicates that after lead was removed from U.S. gasoline in the 1970s, children’s IQs rose an average of six points.) But to make it in the unforgiving world of nature, wildlife has to be fine-tuned. So lead-poisoning in wild mammals and birds is rarely survivable.

Today wild condors are on life support because of lead in their blood. They must be routinely captured and detoxed with calcium-based drugs.
Today, wild condors are on life support because of lead in their blood.
But the drugs strip away nutrients as well as lead, weakening the birds so they can’t be released for a month or more. A study by the University of California, Santa Cruz found that 48 percent of condors tested and treated between 1997 to 2010 had potentially lethal blood-lead levels.

In 2008, California banned lead hunting ammo in all or parts of 13 central and southern counties and seven deer-hunting zones — the presumed core condor range. But the law hasn’t worked; the birds have different ideas about what their range should be.

The statewide ban now before the legislature might not work either because condors also scavenge in Arizona and Utah. Of 166 captive-bred birds reintroduced in these two states since 1996, 38 are known to have died from lead poisoning. But the California bill would give the species a fighting chance, and it might set a precedent.

At least 130 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles ingest lead from bullets, so a national ban is desperately needed. On March 22, 2013, 30 leading scientists, doctors, and public-health authorities assembled by the University of California, Santa Cruz signed a statement warning that lead ammo should be phased out for hunting because it poses an unacceptable danger to humans and wildlife.

The danger isn’t just unacceptable; it’s unnecessary. Copper bullets, which rarely shatter and are far less toxic, work as well or better and are only marginally more expensive. Throughout the West, hawks and eagles are dying because they’re eating big-game entrails and carcasses of prairie dogs shot by so-called “varmint hunters” and left where they drop. For five years until its grant expired, Audubon of Kansas offered varmint hunters copper bullets at the same cost as lead, but there were no takers. Varmint hunters prefer lead for no other reason than that’s what they’ve always used.

Other hunters are less addicted. Anthony Prieto of Santa Barbara, who shoots only copper and does volunteer work for the condor recovery team, founded “Project Gut Pile,” a group that advocates non-toxic ammo and encourages hunters to bury entrails from their kills. “Now that we have the copper alternative burying guts isn’t enough,” he told me. “Scavengers dig them up. We need to ban lead.” Three years ago, Project Gut Pile petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for such a ban, but the gun lobby shouted it down.

The U.S. has eliminated lead from paint, pipes, and gasoline and is in the process of eliminating it from tire weights. But Americans still confuse bullets with gun rights. The Russians, on the other hand, are starting to
The National Rifle Association defines any restriction on lead ammunition as a plot to disarm America.
comprehend the dangers of lead bullets. They’ve at least banned them for military use, effective in 2014.

One might suppose that organizations proclaiming to defend hunters such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) would encourage them to at least cut back on poisoning themselves with lead-laced meat. But the NRA defines any suggested restriction on lead ammo as a plot to disarm America.

The NRA and the Safari Club International (SCI), another powerful segment of the gun lobby, pooh-pooh the notion that ingesting lead fragments impairs humans and proclaim instead that members “will be impaired if they are no longer able” to shoot lead bullets. Pilloried for its promotion of “canned hunts” for captive, semi-tame animals, the SCI seeks to bootstrap its image by distributing member-killed deer to economically disadvantaged families across America. These families typically have the highest exposure to other sources of lead. In 2007, acting on data collected by University of North Dakota medical professor William Cornatzer, health departments of North Dakota and Minnesota impounded 17,000 pounds of donated, lead-impregnated venison.

Basically, Cornatzer is against poisoning the poor. Although he’s an SCI member and hunts all over the world, the NRA attacked the doctor’s integrity on grounds that he serves on the board of the Peregrine Fund, which had advocated nontoxic bullets in condor range. With that, the NRA untruthfully claimed that follow-up studies by the Centers for Disease Control and the North Dakota Department of Health “indicate nothing that should restrict or eliminate the use of lead ammunition for hunting.”

What the follow-up studies indicate is that blood-lead levels in humans increase with wild-game consumption. Still, the NRA has prevailed. North Dakota and Minnesota are again allowing distribution of lead-killed venison to the poor, merely warning that it should be avoided by pregnant women and young children.

Condors and other carrion eaters feed heavily in U.S. national park units. On March 5, 2009 a close friend in the National Park Service sent me this eloquent, one-character email: "!" Attached was a memo from the service's acting director, ordering a ban on lead ammo in park units where hunting was authorized. The gun lobby unloaded on the agency, and the ban was promptly modified. Hunters could keep firing lead, but park personnel and contractors had to use non-toxic bullets when training, controlling feral goats and hogs, or culling deer and elk.

View gallery
California Condor

U.S. National Parks Service
A condor is treated for lead poisoning by National Park Service biologists.
“We know why condors are going extinct, and we know why thousands of hawks and eagles are dying,” says a federal biologist who requested anonymity and asked that I not even email him because, under the Freedom of Information Act, the gun lobby gets to route through government disk drives the better to intimidate researchers who reveal information not to its liking. “What I have an even harder time with is that we take meat purposefully laced with lead fragments and give it to the poorest and most disenfranchised members of our society.… The people making decisions about ammunition are the same people hanging award placards on their walls for ‘helping’ the poor by feeding them poison.”

The gun lobby is nothing if not consistent. A quarter century ago, in response to a national push to replace lead waterfowl shot with equally effective and affordable non-toxic steel, the NRA issued this warning: “Anti-gunners, attacking lead shot under the guise of environmentalism, have succeeded in gaining a beachhead in our continuing war... Our enemies, after failing to restrict our right to bear arms, attacked our flanks.”

One might suppose that an outfit claiming to speak for hunters would have a problem with elimination of game birds. But the NRA was just fine with something like 1.4 million ducks annually ingesting fatal doses of lead
The dangers posed to people and wildlife by lead hunting projectiles is hardly breaking news.
shotgun pellets with which waterfowl hunters were festooning the nation’s marshes.

Then, as now, NRA “enemies” consisted of hunting organizations, state and federal wildlife managers, ornithologists, and, of course, environmentalists. Ducks, geese, and swans kept dying through 1991, when a national ban on lead waterfowl shot was finally imposed. And they’re dying today (albeit in lesser numbers) from residual lead shot and new lead shot from legal upland bird hunting.

The dangers posed to people and wildlife by lead hunting projectiles is hardly breaking news. One early alarm was sounded by George Bird Grinnell in his sporting weekly Forest & Stream: “Until they reach the gizzard where the wildfowl grinds his food, these pellets do no harm, but, when reduced to powder... they become a violent poison.” The year was 1894. Such is the efficacy of the gun lobby in controverting the public good.

And what of the emergency action to keep California condors on the planet, which just made it through its first legislative hurdle? According to the NRA, inconveniencing hunters by forcing them to switch to copper bullets is another assassination attempt on sport and the Constitution. “Anti-Gun Legislators Vote to Destroy Hunting and the Second Amendment in California,” screams its action alert.

POSTED ON 07 May 2013 IN Biodiversity Biodiversity Oceans Policy & Politics Policy & Politics Pollution & Health North America 


On yahoo, I have hunters arguing with me that they are the true animal conservationist, while the scientists are just tree hugging hippies who don't understand the world. The situation with these birds just go to show that hunters and state officials can't police themselves or the environment.

Posted by Peggy Freeman on 07 May 2013

The very idea that we can (and should) save a species that is being destroyed by lead bullets seems logical and clear. How anyone can see a ban on these projectiles that cause so much harm as a plot to disarm and destroy America is an indicator of just how basically stupid the NRA and others are. To save the majestic California Condor must be mandatory. Like so many other species, this resident of the golden state needs our help. To turn a blind eye or to selfishly support something that destroys lives is unacceptable.

Posted by Jana Pendragon on 07 May 2013

A pity that the NRA seems to hold such power over people who are charged with making wise decisions. Lead shot should & must be banned throughout the U.S.A. & Canada. Condors once ranged throughout much of the west coast even up into the Canadian west.

Posted by Esther McRae on 07 May 2013

Why not just ask hunters to pick up their gut piles? Seems a whole lot easier and most of the big game hunters use guide services so it could easily be done. Hunters are conservationists and most will do the right thing when presented with rational information.

Banning lead is not necessary when people are informed and act responsibly.

Posted by commonsense on 07 May 2013

Picking up gut piles doesn't work 'cause there's no practical way of lugging them out of the woods. And then what to do with them? Also, lots of wounded animals carrying lead go off and die.

Posted by Ted Williams on 07 May 2013

Years ago, I traveled to California. I discovered a riding stable north of Santa Barbara and was afforded the opportunity to ride out by myself along ocean beaches and up into the mountains (It was the seventies, after all). One day I was riding along the beach at low tide when I came upon a dirt trail that led up a small hill. When I and my horse named Silver got to the top we were overlooking a stand of dead avacado trees. Storm clouds hung low and the trees were shrouded in mist. Perched on the twisted limbs were dozens of vultures. Every once in awhile one would flap its wings and slowly take off. It was as if the world had stopped turning and I had ridden back in time, before man had put his footprint in the sand. I returned the next day, but they were all gone. Every time I read about the condors I am back again on Silver, mesmerized by the sight of those birds in that far off place.

Posted by Jackie Thompson on 07 May 2013

Jeez. Human is the scum of the earth! They have no respect of animals. Poor animals! Sighing!

Posted by bearmon2010 on 07 May 2013

Condors and venison consuming hunters, and their families and guests, share exposure lead poisoning.

Research is conclusive: lead bullet hunters should view this video: http://watch.opb.org/video/2302231466

The ballistics and bullet analysis information is in the last five minutes of this 10-minute video. A ballistic comparison of lead core v copper rifle bullets is in this video: http://www.nps.gov/grca/naturescience/bullet_study.htm

Fact is, we rifle hunters have all been eating some of our own lead since we started using high-velocity mushrooming bullets virtually all of which disperse lead fragments into the edible game carcass. The effects on adults may be negligible but to the young children at your dinner table that weekly deer burger may put them at one with the condor.

Posted by Ron Moody on 08 May 2013

Radical animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the US, Audubon California, Center for Biological Diversity, and Action For Animals are conducting a war aimed at the banning of sport hunting in California. One way they are trying to accomplish this is by sponsoring AB711, which calls for a state-wide ban on most kinds of hunting ammunition available to the public. Now, the same groups are trying to expand the ban to your state. These groups claim that scavenging animals, such as the California condor, ingest and are poisoned by pieces of metallic lead bullets present in gut piles of harvested game left in the field by hunters. They rely on certain scientific papers that allegedly support these claims, and often use the poisoning of the California condor to justify their anti-lead ammunition agenda.

But there are serious scientific questions about the validity of their claims. The failure of the hastily-enacted California lead ammunition ban legislation of 2007 (AB821) suggests that these groups are wrong. AB821 banned the use of lead ammunition in the “condor zone” region of California. It was strong-armed through the legislature, bypassing the usual path involving the more scientifically inclined California Fish & Game Commission, based on the promise that the ban would lower the condors’ elevated blood-lead levels, and solve the lead poisoning problem. But AB821 has not resulted in lower blood-lead levels or otherwise reduced lead poisoning in condors. Despite the California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s acknowledgment that 99 percent of hunters are complying with the lead ban in the “condor zone” since the law took effect, condors’ blood-lead levels, poisoning and mortality have increased since 2007!

There are obviously other sources of lead in the environment. These alternative sources are likely an industrial lead compound (e.g leaded gasoline, paint or pesticides), which is far more soluble and bioavailable to condors. We have identified some of those potential alternative sources, and we encourage you to join the hunt for the truth with us and learn the real facts! To learn all the facts in the lead ammunition debate, visit www.huntfortruth.org.

Posted by Hunt For Truth on 08 May 2013

Audubon California is a "radical animal rights group"? Imagine, "relying on scientific papers."

Posted by Ted Williams on 08 May 2013

This is a very sad story. In Europe, it is the wild game meat, which is sold in supermarket in countries like Sweden, that is contaminated, unnecessarily. It make regularly the headlines as tests are done by authorities now and then. This contradicts those who says that in this case there are other major sources (though there are for sure other sources that are significant).

In a densely populated world, we do not fish any longer in streams using nets, we use simple rods to preserve the fish. There are still trout today. If we were using nets there would be none. In many countries true wild game is a thing of the past: the game is farmed and released. Hunters are not the only one to blame, as some game cannot reproduce or even survive any longer in industrial farm land.

But, as in many region game is still wild and fragile due to their reduced territory, why would it be so disgracious to reintroduce more bow hunting? To be more selective, to favour a more intimate knowledge of game (bow hunting requires more careful approach, extensive knowledge).

In many country, bow hunting is still not allowed (including Sweden) on incredibly dodgy grounds.

There are thousands of wild life lovers, hikers, that would like to hunt using bows and that are not so much found of using rifles. Why not giving more legal space to these kind of would be hunter and reduce the rifle hunting to specific games where it is more adequate (like fast culling of invasive species in damaged environment)?

Besides, more bow hunting would prevent accidents that occurs regularly with rifles.

Posted by kervennic on 09 May 2013

Lead ammunition is a public health issue and an environmental issue. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. This is a "controversy" only because the NRA is an extremist organization.

Posted by Taran on 09 May 2013

I stopped using lead ammo a few years ago after one of my biologist friends showed me research on how far small lead particles can spread in a carcass. I've been using copper ammo with great success ever since. It's expensive, but worth reducing the risk of lead poisoning. P.S. I haven't noticed any difference in velocity or power. Those deer went right down.

Posted by Donald Mansius on 09 May 2013


Posted by john pasqua on 10 May 2013

I suspect that cost is one of the major hurdles. As a duck hunter and upland bird hunter, I can tell you that the difference between steel shot and lead shot is enormous. And the ballistics are very different. But after reading this, I'm switching to steel shot for upland birds, too. BTW I'd guess that copper is super expensive. So, we've got to find a way to work with that or hunters will be outraged.

Posted by Steve on 10 May 2013

It's not just the condors who suffer and die from ingesting lead pellets. Secondary poisoning of scavengers such as bears, coyotes, foxes, skunks, eagles, vultures, ravens, jays, etc, is also a serious problem.

There should also be a ban on the use of lead fishing tackle. There is documentation of mortality of waterfowl such as loons, cormorants, swans, diving ducks, etc., who sicken and perish from ingesting lost fishing weights (sinkers).

If hunters were the true conservationists they claim to be, they would be leading this effort. We need a nation-wide ban on the use of lead for ALL hunting and fishing.

Eric Mills, coordinator

Posted by Eric Mills on 11 May 2013

And a P.S. - As Ted Williams notes, California Assembly Bill AB 711 (by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood) passed the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee on April 16 by a vote of 9:5.

On May 8, AB 711 passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee by a vote of 11:5.

Sadly, the vote was strictly partisan in both committees. All the "AYE" votes were by Democrats all the "NO" votes were by Republicans. Teddy Roosevelt must be whirling in his grave.

AB 711 now goes to the full Assembly floor, and
your support is needed NOW.


ALL LEGISLATORS MAY BE WRITTEN C/O THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA 95814. If in doubt as to who your state reps are, see the "Government" pages in the front of your local telephone book.

Eric Mills, coordinator

Posted by Eric Mills on 11 May 2013

Okay to kill condors, says USFWS


Posted by Ted Williams on 11 May 2013

Steve: Nontoxic bullets and shot that perform as well or better than lead are readily available, but the gun lobby opposes them, claiming that they’re a crippling financial burden. Prices vary widely according to gauge of shotgun shell, size of shot, and weight and caliber of bullet. But I found 25-round boxes of 20-gauge No. 6 shotgun shells (used for pheasant and grouse) offered at $7.39 for lead and $7.49 for steel. And I found 30 caliber 168-grain bullets (often used for deer) offered per order of 50 at $13.50 for lead and $34.99 for copper. Ten shots at deer per season is a lot for any hunter.

Posted by Ted Williams on 11 May 2013

Some comments in this string indicated there is no difference between lead and copper bullets. Hunters think the density difference is a big deal (lead is 11.36 g/cc copper is 8.96 g/cc). That the difference is negligible is more true for rifle bullets than for shotgun pellets, because a rifle bullet can always be made longer to equal the mass of a lead bullet. I also think lead should either be banned or taxed at a high enough rate to make copper less expensive, but we should try to understand the arguments of the other side.

Posted by Roger Faulkner on 12 May 2013

Hello Ted. A very thoughtful piece. As you know, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked long and hard to build the science of lead toxicity in waterfowl. We worked with industry and the sporting community to ensure that non-toxic shot was available to waterfowlers, like me. Today, we have a wide range of effective and affordable loads. The waterfowl resource is better for it, as is the great tradition of waterfowl hunting.

As you note, evidence is mounting that lead poisoning, principally from lead ammunition, is the limiting factor in Condor recovery. There is also mounting evidence about impacts to other scavenging birds, including eagles. Those of us who love hunting, as I know you do, need to pay attention, and we need to be prepared to follow the best science. In the meantime, non-
lead alternatives are a good choice. When my son and I hunt caribou, this summer, in Alaska, we'll be using Barnes copper bullets. I bought them today at Cabellas.com. Thanks for writing on this subject.

Posted by Dan Ashe on 12 May 2013

The sad truth is that we can't have a civil discussion on this issue in a public policy context because some will use the issue to try and ban hunting and guns, while others see any discussion that involves unintended consequence of legal hunting to be an attack on the 2nd Amendment.

I am the president of one of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, one of the leading teaching and research hospitals for wildlife medicine in the world. We see lead-poisoned vultures and raptors all the time, including nearly two dozen bald eagles in 2012 alone, so it is not just about condors! We also often are able to collect the shards of lead and shotgun pellets these birds have ingested. They are NOT eating batteries or nibbling lead paint as some have suggested.

I'm a life-long hunter and an enthusiastic gun collector and target shooter. I still shoot thousands of rounds of lead ammo every year. However, I have not used lead ammo to hunt for nearly ten years. The really ironic thing is that a copper bullet has better ballistic characteristics than lead. So, the switch actually enhances my ability to take game humanely and safely.

Posted by Ed Clark on 13 May 2013

I recall in the 1980s, when the debate on mandatory steel shot debate was raging, the gun-lobby argument was we can’t mandate steel because no one makes it. And the industry argument was we can’t make it affordable because it’s not mandated. Then, in 1991, when it was mandated, the problem vanished. Steel waterfowl shot became available at about the same price as lead. It didn’t destroy our guns, as the NRA, Olin, and National Shooting Sports Foundation had duplicitously warned, and, despite their equally duplicitous claims, it worked just as well as lead.

Posted by Ted Williams on 13 May 2013

The wonderful thing about the slippery slope argument the NRA wields at all times is that it can be used in every single circumstance. There is NOTHING about banning lead in ammunition that leads to the disarming of America. Nothing. But it WOULD present a financial inconvenience to gun manufacturers. The NRA's stance on this issue makes their actual purpose of lobbying for said manufacturers by manipulating the fears of gun owners so screamingly clear it's nearly self-evident.

Posted by Andrew Keefe on 14 May 2013

Wonderful service provide by National park authorities. Good for wild life.

Posted by Utah Fly Fishing Guides on 15 May 2013

When I follow the links to the scientific basis for this article at the National Academy of Science I am not at all convinced. Condors are being poisoned by lead, I get that. But the National Academy first lists the other sources of lead which are not insignificant, especially considering that hunters have stopped using lead amo within the condors range for many years with a very high compliance rate.

When I follow the links at the National Academy itself they go to great lengths to convince one that isotope readings point to amo.

What happens if there is a ban and condors continue to die of lead poisoning? Don't tell me, must be left over lead.

And yes Audubon CA are radicals, as radical as Action for Animals upthread that thinks eating animals is as bad as the Holocaust.

Look at it this way. Every group that is pushing this is anti hunting, do I think that is coincidence?

The only good thing I can say about this article is it didn't use the NDakota CDC study, and we know why, lead from hunting is shown to be less than background lead from gasoline in the 70s.


Posted by som sai on 20 May 2013

Hey som sai: You sound as paranoid as the NRA. Interesting that you are unable to provide a single scrap of evidence that Audubon of CA (which is National Audubon) is “radical” or even “anti hunting.” “Wanted more Deer Hunters.” Does that sound like an “anti hunting” title. Google it. I wrote it for Audubon magazine and it was Audubon’s idea, not mine.

Posted by Ted Williams on 22 May 2013

Mr. Williams, Please address your comments to the issues instead of medically diagnosing me or linking me to groups I'm not associated with.

Yes, Audubon is an anti hunting group.

Posted by somsai on 23 May 2013

Somsai: To quote Abe Lincoln: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Five? No four because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. Similarly, calling Audubon “anti hunting,” doesn’t make it anti hunting. You cite no evidence because you have none. And you have none because none exists.

Posted by Ted Williams on 24 May 2013

The statement that lead and steel shotgun shells are now the same price is a flat out lie. A box of 25 lead #6 shot is in the $6-$8 range. You cannot buy a box of steel for less than $15. A 200 percent increase in cost is not immaterial. Support your claim that you found a box of 25 steel #6 shot for under $8, post a link to the website. I'll wait....

Posted by Drew Bocook on 05 Jun 2013

I will bet that if you focus the argument against lead, and not the NRA (which isn't anything but gun owning America) that this could be resoved. Lead was already made illegal in Condor areas, so the battle now lies within Law Enforcement. But copper is toxic to condors also, so you will need to promise gun owners that this argument will end with taking lead ammo off the shelves.

Posted by Common Sense on 10 Jun 2013

CLARIFICATION: There's an organization called ACTION FOR ANIMALS based in Seattle, which promotes animal rights and vegetarianism.

Please don't confuse them with my Oakland-based organization of the same name. We are not connected. Like both AUDUBON and CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, I am NOT "anti-hunting," per se, as some would have it.

I DO believe that you should eat what you kill, though, and do it ethically, humanely and legally.

I also remain convinced that the use of lead should be banned for ALL hunting and fishing, and that the sporting community should be leading this effort. The science is in.

Thanks again to Ted Williams for his insightful and spot-on presentation of the problems.

Eric Mills, coordinator
email - afa@mcn.org

P.S. - AB 711 passed the CA Senate Natural Resources last week in a strictly partisan vote (7:2). Shouldn't environmental protection be a bi-partisan issue? Teddy Roosevelt must be whirling in his grave. The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee, then the Senate floor.

Posted by Eric Mills on 14 Jun 2013

My grandfather was an avid hunter and fisherman. That is an environment in which I grew up. It is from that experience that I feel that I can say that banning lead shot is not an attack on the rights of hunters at all. In fact, all hunters who care about the environment should support this move. It will help preserve the eco-systems on which they depend for their sport. Let us hope that California is the first of many Western states to ban lead bullets.

Posted by Ron Charles on 16 Jun 2013

Thorough science? Really? Aviation fuel has not had lead removed like auto-gas did years ago. Have the scientist done ANY studies on this possible lead source? Condors fly and ride the thermals right where general aviation aircraft fly.

Leaded av-gas is burned by aircraft emitting lead compounds that migrate slowly to the earth surface. Please tell me where these studies are? But without any doubt it's HUNTING and CAN'T be anything else. Where are the chem-trail guys when you need them? If you want to see if lead is getting into the scavenger food chain by bullets look at Coyotes. They get 99 percent of the gut piles that are killed by hunters. Anybody looked there?

Posted by dirtcurt on 16 Jun 2013

I don't leave the carcass of an animal I shoot on the ground for the birds to eat. I have asked to see results of autopsies done on the birds and have yet to receive any paperwork on it — try it for yourself and see if you get any paperwork. I also asked to see how many mountain lions, bears, bobcats, and other predators die from lead as well and, guess what, nothing on those either. This is just a ploy by animal rights groups to get hunters out of the woods. By the way, the condors are still dying from ingesting lead from somewhere in the San Franciso area, which pollutes my area, so it seems to me the same left-wing wackos seeking to save this bird are actually the ones killing it.
Posted by Ray C on 06 Sep 2013

Extinction is not a bad thing that should be avoided. As with the condor it's probably going to die out anyway no matter what measures are taken to save it. As for the lead poisoning, that's hogwash — a lie perpetrated by the animal rights movement to infringe on everyone's rights to hunt, fish, target shoot, or just exercise their Second Amendment rights. I say let the filthy over-sized turkey buzzards die off and then move on.
Posted by FM2 on 08 May 2014

This article is such a lie. Steel shot is neither as effective as lead nor is it as affordable. The fact that lead shot is toxic does not change this lie to truth. Non toxic shot shells are very expensive. And lead most toxic to fowl with gizzards, the ones that ingest rocks to help grind up their food. Comparing raptors to waterfowl is weak, if not outright deceiving.

Hunters do not deliberately lace meat with lead either. I eat meat shot with lead bullets on a regular basis. I also work with lead so as part of my job, so I have to monitor my blood lead levels. I have no detectable lead in my system in spite of working with it on a daily basis and eating lead shot meat.

Bonded lead bullets retain 95% of their weight and most of the lost weight is the plastic tip and copper jacket. There is no way a condor would be poisoned by a bonded core lead bullet.

Merely banning lead is expensive and not necessary. Using bonded lead bullets that are heavy for diameter is sufficient.

If you look at the one X-ray study the idiot used a 7mm magnum and a light weight lead bullet to generate his lead shot meat. Most hunters are not this stuipd.

Not to mention the fact that "gut piles" are not likely to contain bullets. All hunters strive to avoid gut shooting animals.

So far every big game animal I have shot has had no retained lead, the bullets pass through and lodge harmlessly in the dirt and none of my animals have been shot in the gut. The key is to use the right bullet for the job.

I'd be more willing to negotiate with people who were not chronic liars.

Posted by Concerned Hunter on 26 Jan 2015

"It didn’t destroy our guns, as the NRA, Olin, and National Shooting Sports Foundation had duplicitously warned"

Yet another lie, this time from the comments. Steel shot will destroy older guns not designed to handle it. This is a proven fact. Sure, new steel safe guns exist, but for most of us normal people, a new gun is an expense we can't afford.
Posted by Concerned Hunter on 26 Jan 2015


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ted williamsABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ted Williams, an avid hunter and angler, writes strictly about fish and wildlife conservation. He is a longtime contributor to Audubon magazine, where he writes the award-winning Incite column, and is conservation editor for Fly Rod & Reel magazine.



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From rapid genetic analysis to spectrography, high-tech tools are being used to track down and prosecute perpetrators of the illegal wildlife trade. The new advances in forensics offer promise in stopping the trafficking in endangered species.

Wildlife Farming: Does It Help
Or Hurt Threatened Species?

Wildlife farming is being touted as a way to protect endangered species while providing food and boosting incomes in rural areas. But some conservation scientists argue that such practices fail to benefit beleaguered wildlife.

Rocky Flats: A Wildlife Refuge
Confronts Its Radioactive Past

The Rocky Flats Plant outside Denver was a key U.S. nuclear facility during the Cold War. Now, following a $7 billion cleanup, the government is preparing to open a wildlife refuge on the site to the public, amid warnings from some scientists that residual plutonium may still pose serious health risks.


MORE IN Reports

Canada’s Trudeau Is Under Fire
For His Record on Green Issues

by ed struzik
After 10 years of a fossil-fuel friendly Conservative government, many Canadians welcomed the election of Justin Trudeau as prime minister. But Trudeau’s decisions to approve two oil pipelines and a major gas facility have left some questioning just how green the new leader really is.

As Chinese Luxury Market Grows,
An Upsurge in Tiger Killings in India

by sharon guynup
Poachers killed more tigers in the forests of India in 2016 than any year in the last 15. The spike is linked to demand for tiger parts in China, where the endangered animal’s bones and skins are regarded as exotic luxury items.

New Look at Rivers Reveals
The Toll of Human Activity

by jim robbins
A recent outbreak of a deadly fish parasite on the Yellowstone River may have seemed unremarkable. But a new wave of research shows the episode was likely linked to the cumulative impact of human activities that essentially weakened the Yellowstone’s "immune system."

On Slopes of Kilimanjaro, Shift
In Climate Hits Coffee Harvest

by daniel grossman
Rising temperatures and changing precipitation are taking a toll on coffee farms worldwide, including the plantations around Mount Kilimanjaro. If the world hopes to sustain its two billion cup-a-day habit, scientists say, new climate-resilient species of coffee must be developed.

Aimed at Refugees, Fences Are
Threatening European Wildlife

by jim o'donnell
A flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa has prompted governments in the Balkans to erect hundreds of miles of border fences. Scientists say the expanding network of barriers poses a serious threat to wildlife, especially wide-ranging animals such as bears and wolves.

How Tracking Product Sources
May Help Save World’s Forests

by fred pearce
Global businesses are increasingly pledging to obtain key commodities only from sources that do not contribute to deforestation. Now, nonprofit groups are deploying data tools that help hold these companies to their promises by tracing the origins of everything from soy to timber to beef.

How Warming Is Threatening
The Genetic Diversity of Species

by jim robbins
Research on stoneflies in Glacier National Park indicates that global warming is reducing the genetic diversity of some species, compromising their ability to evolve as conditions change. These findings have major implications for how biodiversity will be affected by climate change.

Full Speed Ahead: Shipping
Plans Grow as Arctic Ice Fades

by ed struzik
Russia, China, and other nations are stepping up preparations for the day when large numbers of cargo ships will be traversing a once-icebound Arctic Ocean. But with vessels already plying these waters, experts say the time is now to prepare for the inevitable environmental fallout.

How Forensics Are Boosting
Battle Against Wildlife Trade

by heather millar
From rapid genetic analysis to spectrography, high-tech tools are being used to track down and prosecute perpetrators of the illegal wildlife trade. The new advances in forensics offer promise in stopping the trafficking in endangered species.

African Wetlands Project: A Win
For the Climate and the People?

by winifred bird
In Senegal and other developing countries, multinational companies are investing in programs to restore mangrove forests and other wetlands that sequester carbon. But critics say these initiatives should not focus on global climate goals at the expense of the local people’s livelihoods.

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