California Condors Suffering From Lead Poisoning Significantly Less

March 13, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the Peregrine Fund)
A 2003 wild condor chick with parent.

Wildlife officials said the number of California Condors suffering from lead poisoning is at one of its lowest rates in a decade. 

The Peregrine Fund said tests on condors in Arizona and Utah have shown a significant drop in levels of lead. Biologists with the Idaho-based nonprofit say data from September shows 16 percent of the endangered birds they trapped and tested had dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

That is down from 42 percent a year ago. Eleven of the birds had to be treated with lead-reducing therapy, compared to 28 a year ago. Officials said last year was the second-worst on record for condor deaths and lead exposure, since the endangered birds were reintroduced in 1996. They said the decrease could be the result of fewer hunters using leaded ammunition.