Officials: Keep condors healthy; learn about non-lead ammo at free event

The number of California condors treated for lead exposure in Utah and Arizona has fallen to its lowest level since 2005. Location, date not specified | Photo by Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

HURRICANE – The recent death of a condor in Zion National Park attributed to possible lead-poisoning has prompted wildlife officials to hold a free clinic and shooting event this Saturday to promote the use of non-lead ammunition.

The Division of Wildlife Resources and The Peregrine Fund are hosting the clinic to introduce hunters and livestock owners to non-lead ammunition and the advantages of using it.

A California condor stretches its wings. If you arrive at the viewing site early in the morning, you should get a close look at the birds. | Photo by Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
A California condor stretches its wings. | Photo by Lynn Chamberlain, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Lead poisoning is a leading cause of diagnosed death for California Condors residing in Southern Utah and northern Arizona, according to a statement from the National Park Service. Condors themselves are listed as an endangered species and are protected as such.

Condors are scavenging carrion-eaters and will eat dead game animals, livestock and varmints. If those animals were killed with lead ammunition, such as shotgun pellets, the condor will end up ingesting the lead.

“When they eat an animal that died after being wounded by a gunshot, or they eat the entrails left in the field after a hunter has cleaned an animal he or she has harvested, they ingest lead fragments,” Keith Day, a regional wildlife biologist with the Utah DWR, previously stated. “If hunters use non-lead ammunition, the threat of lead exposure is non-existent.”

Last month the National Park Service announced that a 16-year-old condor located in Zion National Park had died due to suspected lead poisoning.

Before it died, the condor, known as Condor 337, and its mate hatched a chick in the park.

If the chick survives, it will be the first condor chick successfully raised in Utah since endangered condors were reintroduced to northern Arizona in 1996.

The free clinic and shooting event will be held at the Southern Utah Shooting Sports Park, location at 5850 W. 1800 South in Hurricane. The event will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hunters and others interesting in learning about using non-lead ammunition will have a chance to test the rounds using their own firearms, or firearms provided at the event. Ammunition will be provided in the following calibers:

7 mm 243 .30-30 .270
.300 .308 .30-06

Non-lead ammunition has its advantages, according to wildlife officials, and will bring an animal down just as effectively as lead bullets will.

“Non-lead bullets are lighter than lead,”Day said, “but they’re designed to mushroom rapidly when they hit. The rapid mushrooming allows non-lead bullets to deliver maximum hydrostatic pressure. That pressure is crucial to bringing an animal down.”

In addition to bringing animals down effectively, non-lead rounds won’t leave behind lead fragments in gut piles for condors and other scavengers to ingest.

If you have questions about the July 9 clinic, call the Division of Wildlife Resources Southern Region office at 435-865-6100.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.


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