Condors: Born Captive, Set Free

On March 7, 2009 four captive-bred California Condors took wing in the skies above the border between Arizona and Utah!  Their release is a symbol of hope for this endangered species.  In the wild, the birds will encounter many dangers including power lines.  But the biggest threat to their existence may arise from something they will not see coming.  

According to the Peregrine Fund, lead is the silent killer that sickens countless numbers of condors as well as Bald and Golden Eagles every year.  During the season, hunters leave behind gut piles from their kills that contain bullet fragments.  If a lead bullet is used for the kill, it leaves fragments along the wound channel as well as in the gut pile.  Condors are poisoned when they scavenge the remains.  Once inside the bird’s body, lead shuts down the bone marrow causing anemia.  The severity will depend upon the amount of lead the bird ingested.  Treatment involves removing the lead from the birds gastrointestinal system and chelating (binding) the lead that has already been absorbed. 

If you or anyone you know enjoys hunting or fishing (think lead weights), please ask them to use lead-free ammunition or pack-out  gut piles after they dress the prey.  This one small step will protect the condors, the environment and all of us who enjoy it.  Remember, the meat from animals killed with lead ammunition is harmful to humans as well.  Thanks!

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.