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The Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council and Sierra Club have announced the combined intention to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for failing to protect endangered California condors from toxic lead poisoning in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest.
As reported by Care2.com, Arizona’s California condors are the world’s most endangered species, and that lead poisoning — due to lead-based ammunition used by hunters entering the condor's food chain — is avoidable thanks to the availability of nontoxic alternatives. As recently as 2006, 95 percent of Arizona’s condor population suffered from lead poisoning, with an estimated 12 to 14 dying from it. Up to 70 percent of the birds have been treated for lead exposure.
“At a time when other agencies are stepping up efforts to get toxic lead out of the food chain, the U.S. Forest Service continues to bury its head in the sand, refusing to exercise its authority to protect wildlife on its lands and prevent the needless lead poisoning of Arizona’s condors,” said Jay Lininger, a conservation advocate with the Center For Biological Diversity. “If we want condors to survive, we must stop using ammunition that contaminates their food supply with toxic lead, especially on our national forests.”
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A golden eagle.
A wide-ranging band of environmental groups have come together to formally request that the Environmental Protection Agency consider banning or limiting the use of lead in hunting ammo. As reported by the New York Times, the coalition argues that lead poisoning is contaminating both wildlife and humans who consume animals killed with lead bullets and buckshot.
"The EPA has taken steps to address toxic lead in almost every available product from gasoline to plumbing to toys," said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity to the Huffington Post. "The one source of lead that is still causing significant lead exposure is hunting ammunition and fishing tackle."
While a similar petition was denied in 2010, Miller believes that this larger and more diverse coalition of groups (which now includes hunting organizations) and more extensive research showing the link between toxic levels of lead in hunting ammo and “significant” poisoning of birds like condors and eagles around the country.