Lead continues to be a serious threat to California condor populations

Apr 09, 2014

The California condor was one of the first species to be listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1966 when the population was reduced to a handful of birds. Through a massive collaborative effort that included fieldwork and breeding in zoos, the condor population has grown to more than 400 birds, more than half of which are now free-flying in the wild. Unfortunately, there is overwhelming evidence that lead poisoning from accidental ingestion of spent ammunition is the leading cause of death in the wild population, and this may prevent the establishment of self-sustaining populations.

"After reviewing nearly 20 years of our mortality data on the free-ranging , it became clear that is the primary problem for the birds in the wild. And this is not just a problem for California condors. We can view them as an indicator species, warning us about the hazards of widespread lead contamination in the environment." said Bruce Rideout, director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global.

Our collaborators at the Wildlife Health Center at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis recently published a review of the impact of in ammunition on scavenging birds and what it means for the health of our shared environment. The review article can be found in the January edition of the journal EcoHealth.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in , the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Explore further: Sobering update on Jamaica's largest vertebrate

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sobering update on Jamaica's largest vertebrate

Apr 01, 2014

In 1990, the Jamaican iguana was removed from the list of extinct species when a small population was re-discovered on the island. Unfortunately, the species continues to be critically endangered, with only a single location ...

Baby gorilla with mom at San Diego Zoo

Mar 25, 2014

The San Diego Zoo says an infant gorilla that was successfully treated for pneumonia after a cesarean section delivery is in her mother's arms for the first time.

Recommended for you

New study charts the global invasion of crop pests

6 hours ago

Many of the world's most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.

Zambia lifts ban on safari hunting

8 hours ago

Zambia has lifted a 20-month ban on safari hunting because it has lost too much revenue, but lions and leopards will remain protected, the government said Wednesday.

The devastating spread of the mountain pine beetle

15 hours ago

When the mountain pine beetle began blazing a path across forests in British Columbia and Alberta, nobody could have imagined the extent of the damage to come. But as the insect devastated pine forests and ...

User comments : 0