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Arizona Keeps Killing Condors

A big thumbs down goes to the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, for its efforts to continue the poisoning of california condors, the largest bird in North America. California condors are an endangered species that very nearly went extinct a generation ago. People have struggled to reintroduce the california condor into the wild, and to establish viable populations of the bird.

california condorThe Arizona Department of Game and Fish doesn’t seem to care much about that, though. The Department is opposing efforts to end the use of lead ammunition within the borders of the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona, on the grounds that hunters in the National Forest should be left to voluntarily choose whether or not to use lead ammunition.

The california condor is a scavenger, and feeds upon the bodies of dead animals it finds. Large numbers of these dead bodies are animals that human hunters have killed, but failed to retrieve. Many of these corpses contain ammunition from the guns of the hunters who shot them. Much of that ammunition contains dangerous amounts of lead. When california condors feed on these animals, they often die.

In Arizona 15 of the endangered birds have died as a result of lead poisoning in the last five and a half years. During the same time, 11 of the condors have died in California, even though California has a larger population of condors.

Replacing lead ammunition used by human hunters with copper ammunition saves the lives of california condors, but the Arizona Department of Game and Fish wants to keep its current lax approach, despite the evidence of problems. National Forests are public land, and hunting on them is a privilege, not a right. When hunters go into National Forests to kill the animals they find there, the least we can do is to require them to use ammunition that doesn’t spread toxins into the ecosystem, killing wildlife that the hunters weren’t even aiming at.

2 comments to Arizona Keeps Killing Condors

  • Tom

    People kill everything, including each other, and now the biosphere we rely on for our existence.


  • Tom


    A Long-Running Tragedy

    From Elizabeth Kolbert’s Save The Elephants.
    Poaching data from Thomson Reuters.

    Meanwhile, as disturbing as the recent carnage is, the long-term view is, if anything, worse. Elephants and rhinos are among the last survivors of a once rich bestiary of giants. Australia was home to thirteen-foot-long marsupials. North America had mammoths and mastodons, South America glyptodonts and enormous sloths, Madagascar massive elephant birds and giant lemurs. Before people arrived on the scene, these megafauna were protected by their size; afterward their size became a liability. The giant beasts couldn’t reproduce fast enough to make up for the losses to human hunting, and so, one after another, they vanished. In this sense, what’s happening today in Africa is just the final act of a long-running tragedy.

    Mike Chase, an American conservation biologist, is currently conducting an aerial census of Africa’s elephants. He started work on the project in February, when, he told the Huffington Post, he hoped to “leave people inspired and motivated with some good news.” But the opposite has happened. At a reserve in Ethiopia, where his team had expected to find three hundred elephants, they counted just thirty-six. Now, Chase said, “I feel as though the only good I’m doing is recording the extinction of one of the most magnificent animals that ever walked the earth.”

    When I read that I felt the need to share. So I did.

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