California lead bullet ban moves forward

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A measure to ban the use of lead bullets in California was moved forward by the State's Senate yesterday. Assembly Bill 821 bans the use of lead bullets for hunting within California. The bill, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Pete Nava and has letters of support from a number of conservation and environmental groups, was passed by a majority of 23 to 15.

Bill proponents argued that an important reason to support the ban rests in the threat lead bullets pose to endangered species such as the California condor.

"I am elated that the fight to save the condor, North America’s largest bird, is one step closer to reality," stated Nava.

"The California Condor is a national treasure and with the recent death of a California condor at the Los Angeles Zoo last week from lead poisoning, further highlights the urgent need for my legislation so that our children and grandchildren can know and see these magnificent birds in the wild," added Nava.

Bill opponents, primarily groups that support hunting and the right to bear arms, argued that lead bullets were not a significant source of the threat to California condors. A statement posted on the web site of the National Rifle Association states, "the most recent scientific review provided to the Commission revealed that previous science attempting to show a link between lead ammunition and condor mortality is severely flawed."

Scientists at the Zoological Society of San Diego, an organization that has worked to reproduce condors and place them back in the wild since the 1980's state that there is strong evidence to support the effect of lead bullets on California condor populations.

"All of the California condors which die in the wild are brought to us to determine the cause of death," stated Allison Alberts, Director of Conservation and Research for the Zoological Society of San Diego.

"Of these condors, 24% have died of lead poisoning. Studies indicate that this lead is coming from bullet fragments and shot that have been ingested when eating carcasses," added Alberts.

An article published by Bird Conservation International cites the ingestion of trash picked up from the environment as another serious threat to condor populations. This study indicates the threat is primarily for juvenile condors in the nest however.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.