Predatory and scavenging birds may be exposed to high levels of lead when they ingest shot or bullet fragments embedded in the tissues of animals injured or killed with lead ammunition. Lead poisoning was a contributing factor in the decline of the endangered California condor population in the 1980s, and remains one of the primary factors threatening species recovery. In response to this threat, a ban on the use of lead ammunition for most hunting activities in the range of the condor in California was implemented in 2008. Monitoring of lead exposure in predatory and scavenging birds is essential for assessing the effectiveness of the lead ammunition ban in reducing lead exposure in these species. In this study, we assessed the effectiveness of the regulation in decreasing blood lead concentration in two avian sentinels, golden eagles and turkey vultures, within the condor range in California. We compared blood lead concentration in golden eagles and turkey vultures prior to the lead ammunition ban and one year following implementation of the ban. Lead exposure in both golden eagles and turkey vultures declined significantly post-ban. Our findings provide evidence that hunter compliance with lead ammunition regulations was sufficient to reduce lead exposure in predatory and scavenging birds at our study sites.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)