Humans still threaten California condors

Jan. 20, 2012 at 6:49 PM
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SAN DIEGO, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Deaths of endangered California condors in the wild are still largely caused by human activity, with lead poisoning being the primary factor, a report says.

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research study of the deaths of wild California condors at all release sites in California, Arizona and Baja, California, Mexico, found 70 percent (53 out of 76) of condor mortalities could be attributed to human influences.

Lead toxicosis from the ingestion of spent ammunition was the most important factor in mortality in juvenile condors, birds between the age of 6 months and 5 years, and was the only significant cause of death in adults, a release from the Zoological Society of San Diego said Friday.

The exposures to lead coincide with deer hunting season and the condor's foraging activity in popular hunting areas, the report said.

"Although lead toxicosis from spent ammunition still threatens the survival of the California condor, one of our most iconic species, the good news is that solutions are available in the form of non-toxic ammunition," said Bruce Rideout, the institute's director of wildlife disease laboratories.

"We can make this a win-win situation if we choose to."

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