Yesterday I received an e-mail from the Ventana Wildlife Society with some good news for the endangered California condor. Currently the main issue facing the condors is lead poisoning. This typically comes from eating carcases and gut piles left by hunters. The carcases usually have some part of the ammunition left inside of it and that ammunition contains lead. It only takes a very small particle of lead to kill a condor, this is the same issue we have with eagles up here in the north.
Earlier this year Ventana, and other friends and advocates of the California condor, helped to get bill AB821 signed into law in California. This bill makes it illegal to hunt using led ammunition in areas that are designated condor habitat. This was a huge victory especially since the NRA and other pro gun groups were involved. But the victory does not end there. Lat week the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3 to 1 to adopt new hunting regulations.
These new regulations make it unlawful not only to hunt with lead ammunition in the protected zones but it will now also be unlawful to have lead ammunition in your possession while hunting in these areas.
The second part of the new regulations makes it unlawful to hunt with lead ammunition using a .22 caliber or smaller gun. Smaller caliber guns were not included in AB821 because there is no non lead ammunition available for these weapons. The Fish and Game Commission determined that the market will adjust to the new regulations and manufacturers will begin to make non lead ammunition for the smaller caliber weapons.
This is not only a victory for the condors, Ventana, and all of us who care for our fine feathered friends, this is a victory for us all. Lead is not only poison to condors and eagles, it is poison to the environment and to us too. We get all up in arms about lead painted objects coming to the US from China but then turn around and pollute our own environment with this lead ammunition.
The new law and regulations should help out the condors but we still have a long way to go to resolve the lead issue, and other pollutants, everywhere. If you would like more information, here is the press release from the Ventana.