The California condor, rescued from extinction in an elaborate and expensive recovery effort, has become tantamount to a zoo animal in the wild and can't survive on its own without a ban on lead ammunition across its vast western ranges, a scientific study has concluded.
The majestic scavengers, bred in captivity and released to nature in recent decades, require "constant and costly human assistance," a blue-ribbon panel of the American Ornithologists' Union reported this week.
The six scientists on the panel have not been involved in the condor recovery program. Led by biologist Jeffrey R. Walters of the Avian Ecology Group at Virginia Tech University, they called for "an extensive outreach effort to rally support for replacement of lead ammunition" in condor territory and nationally.
"Poisoning from ingestion of spent ammunition in carcasses is so severe and chronic," the panel concluded, "that condor recovery cannot be achieved so long as such lead exposure continues."
But they also noted that humans who ingest meat from game can suffer adverse effects from lead: "Removing lead ammunition is not only right for condors, it is right for other scavengers, and it is right for hunters and their families."
Last year California became the first state to pass a law prohibiting hunters from using lead ammunition within the condor's 2,385-square-mile range. Lead is banned for shooting big game, such as deer, antelope, bear and non-game species, such as feral pigs and coyotes. Smaller game, such as birds and rabbits, can still be killed with lead bullets.
Poachers kill large numbers of animals and are "unlikely to comply . . . as long as lead bullets are easily purchased," the study found. Despite a California law that provides subsidies to hunters to buy more expensive non-lead bullets, the state has yet to fund it.
Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Baja California do not restrict lead ammunition. But in Arizona, a voluntary program issues coupons to hunters to cover the additional cost of copper bullets and has had an 85% success rate, according to state officials.
The report found that despite Arizona's effort, condors are still being poisoned there. Given the condors' low reproductive rate, "a virtually 100% compliance rate" would be necessary to maintain the species. [emphasis added]
Article here. Note how the authors of the study think that poachers, who don't obey the law, will suddenly switch to non-lead ammo to ... obey the law, helping save the beleaguered condors.
The goal is to ban lead ammo, making shooting more expensive. In addition, I think the alternatives often provide less effective terminal ballistics, so more game will likely be only wounded, escape the hunter, and die painful deaths. Then we'll have to ban all ammo to avoid that problem. See how the gun ban agenda works?