Thursday, December 10, 2009
Another condor is casualty to the toxic legacy of lead ammunition.
Condor 303, also known as Lucia, was treated at the L.A. Zoo after biologists noticed her odd behavior. She'd apparently been poisoned by eating a carcass tainted with lead bullet fragments. Despite two weeks of emergency care, she died from the high level of lead in her bloodstream.
Lucia was hatched in captivity in spring 2003. Ventana Wildlife Society biologists later released her in Monterey County, and she spent her early years in Big Sur's Santa Lucia Mountains. Earlier this year she partnered with Pinnacles condor #313, and together they nested in San Benito county, becoming the first breeding pair there in 70 years. She continued to pay visits to her home territory of Big Sur.
Condors are highly endangered; fewer than 200 fly wild in California. Their biggest threat is lead ammunition, which has been banned in condor territory. Earlier this year Condor 286 also died of lead toxicosis, while Condor 375 was successfully treated and released. Hunters caught using lead bullets face steep penalties.