October 29, 2013 (AP)
Officials say a record 21 California condors (click here) have been treated for lead poisoning this hunting season in California.
Veterinarians at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens say three birds were critically sick when they arrived. They were malnourished, had stopped eating and had a disease that causes the stomach to stop moving food.
Dr. Curtis Eng says it's scary to see so many sick birds, but two of the condors are recovering, and one remains in critical condition.
Vets say 18 of the condors were mildly ill.
The birds are trapped twice a year to check for lead poisoning. The condors are getting the lead in carcasses of animals shot by hunters.
California has a new law that will ban lead ammunition, but it won't be phased in until 2019.
By Geoffrey Giller
The toxicity of lead and the dangers it poses to humans and wildlife alike are a given. After all, it was banned from house paints and phased out of gasoline in the 1970s after the long-term neurological damage it could cause in young children became clear. And birds, especially waterfowl, were known to suffer from lead poisoning as far back as the 1890s. George Bird Grinnell, who founded the first iteration of the National Audubon Society, wrote in 1894 about "the destruction of ducks, geese, and swans by lead-poisoning." Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991, lead-based ammunition is still widely used by hunters for other types of birds and game animals.
A bill signed into law on October 11 by Governor Jerry Brown aims to stop that. But it has sparked a fiery debate among environmentalists, hunters, and legislators across the state and the country. The bill, AB 711, bans the use of lead from all hunting ammunition in California; non-lead ammo is to be phased in by 2019. The bill was passed in the State Assembly in May, and the California Senate approved it on September 9....