Lead poisoning leads to spike in condor deaths

Lead poisoning has contributed to an unusually high number of California condor mortalities this year. The Ventana Wildlife Society, a nonprofit organization involved in restoring the endangered species, reports that 12 of the raptors have died so far this year. “This is the highest number we’ve recorded this early in a year [in recent years],” Joe Burnett, a senior wildlife biologist at Ventana Wildlife Society, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Seven died of lead poisoning. One died of a combination of injuries from the Dolan Fire and lead poisoning. Four await results.

California’s Central Coast is home to 82 California condors. Reintroduction efforts have been hampered by the presence of lead from ammunition in the carcasses and gut piles that the condors eat.

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Header Image: Lead poisoning has led to an unusually high number of California condor deaths this year.
Credit: Ian Shive/USFWS