Condors’ Comeback Imperiled By Lead Poisoning
The California condor’s return from near extinction is threatened by persistent exposure to lead-based bullets, despite intensive efforts to treat and care for poisoned birds each year, scientists say. Lead poisoning in the condors is now “of epidemic proportions,” said Myra Finkelstein, a research toxicologist at UC Santa Cruz and the principal author of a report on the condor problem in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The condors’ feeding habits seem to be a large contributor to the problem. The likelihood is 85 to 98 percent that a condor will feed on a carcass contaminated with lead during its lifetime, Finkelstein’s colleagues calculated. “We will never have a self-sustaining wild condor population if we don’t solve this problem,” Finkelstein said.