The California Fish and Game Commission on 8/27 again weighed the question of whether to ban lead ammunition in California condor habitat, less than a month after the death of one of the endangered giant vultures while it was undergoing chelation to reduce high blood levels of lead. Santa Barbara Audubon Society volunteers helped organize lobbying in support of the proposed ban, pointing out the financial cost of chelation treatments for wild condors, who are apparently attracted to the bullets and also consume them while scavenging corpses. Supporters also cited a study showing that microscopic lead fragments are dispersed widely in the meat of animals killed with lead bullets, posing a toxic hazard to humans who consume it. Hunters’ groups opposed a ban, calling lead bullets not only cheaper but more quickly deadly than alternatives, therefore more humane. The ban under consideration would apply only to big game hunting, not to the shooting of squirrels, birds, and other targets. No decision was reached, and the matter will return to the commission’s agenda when it meets in Concord on October 11 and 12.


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