Sponsored by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and its’ State of the Birds program, funding to help hunters switch to nonlead ammunition is now available by raffle. The raffle website is www.ventanaws.org/ammunition and is operated by Ventana Wildlife Society, a private nonprofit located in Salinas, CA. Contestants enter the online form to receive free non-lead ammunition.
Since 2012, Ventana Wildlife Society has given away over 2,300 boxes of non-lead ammunition and almost entirely from private donations. Non-lead ammo is required everywhere within condor range, and by 2019 a statewide prohibition (of lead ammunition) will be in effect for the taking of all wild animals. The non-lead ammunition giveaway is intended for those who own or manage a private ranch or hunt on public or private lands within condor range. Contestants must reside within California Condor range in central or southern California (Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Tulare, Ventura, San Bernardino, Orange, and Riverside) and be at least 18 years of age.
Hunting and ranching are proud traditions and so is wildlife conservation. Hunting and ranching can benefit scavengers like eagles and condors by providing a food source in the form of unrecovered game, gut piles, or varmint carcasses. However, these benefits are only realized if non-lead ammunition is used. “Hunting and ranching are not the problem. Lead is the problem, and that’s why we’re providing free nonlead ammunition,” said Kelly Sorenson, executive director of Ventana Wildlife Society.
The science linking lead from spent ammunition is abundantly clear. Condors and other scavengers ingest lethal amounts of lead every year. Partial funding for this program was made available through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I think it says a lot about the credibility of the science when those responsible for the recovery of endangered animals, contributes funding for nonlead ammunition”, said Kelly Sorenson. Since 2012 and including this federal grant, Ventana Wildlife Society will have spent $100,000 on nonlead ammunition and 80% of it is coming from private sources. “It should also say a lot that a wildlife conservation organization is handing out bullets! If you haven’t made the switch to high performing copper rifle ammunition, allow us to help you out.” said Sorenson.
A live streaming webcam exists in Big Sur, California where condors are commonly viewed at a lead-free feeding site, http://www.ventanaws.org/condor_cam/
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR:
In 1987, the last wild California condor was taken into captivity to join the twenty-six remaining condors, in an attempt to bolster the population through a captive breeding program. Through the efforts of the California Condor Recovery Program, there are now about 232 California condors in the wild. For decades Ventana Wildlife Society and Pinnacles National Park have made it a mission to save the bird from extinction by regularly trapping and treating condors suffering from lead poisoning. Prompt treatment has saved the lives of many condors. Nests are monitored to ensure the greatest protection possible from potential threats to productivity. In 2013, Jerry Brown, Governor of California signed into law a phase out of lead ammunition throughout the state for all hunting. Lead from spent ammunition is the most significant problem for California condors and this new law gives hope for condor survival in the future; however, the new law, AB711, does not go into effect until 2019.
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR RECOVERY PROGRAM:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service California Condor Recovery Program (Recovery Program) is a multi-entity effort to recover the endangered California condor. Cooperators include the U.S. Forest Service, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Oakland Zoo, California Department of Fish and Game, the Peregrine Fund, Ventana Wildlife Society, the Center for Scientific Investigation and Graduate Studies in Ensenada, La Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAP), Pinnacles National Park, Santa Barbara Zoo, the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City and many others. The Recovery Program is currently focusing its efforts on the captive-breeding and reintroduction of California condors to the wild in the hopes of establishing a self-sustaining population.