Lead Claims Another Condor

Posted at 4:34 pm October 1, 2008 by Yadira Galindo

Condor No. 336 died of lead poisoning in September despite the efforts of wildlife biologists to save the 4-year-old bird. The loss of this bird to lead poisoning is tragic as she was just about to reach breeding age. The loss of even one California condor, when the population is just a little more than 330 birds, is devastating to the California Condor Recovery Program.

Condor 336 hatched at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park in April 2004. She was released at Pinnacles National Monument three years ago. On Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008 biologists with the Ventana Wildlife Society were monitoring the condors in Big Sur, California. Immediately they knew something was wrong with No. 336. Over the course of three days they attempted to catch the bird to perform a health evaluation. On Sept. 5, in cooperation with the National Parks Service, a Ventana biologist caught the condor. She was rushed for veterinary care in Monterey and later transported to the Los Angeles Zoo where veterinarians have successfully treated condors for lead poisoning.

A few days later condor 336 died. The bird had already been underweight by the time she was caught. Her health had been compromised badly and she was not able to recover despite the heroic efforts of the biologists and veterinarians. Her death is not a loss for the California Condor Recovery Program. It is a loss for Californians and for North America.

The California condor is North America’s largest bird. This species was found from British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico when pioneers arrived on our shores. The birds began to loose ground quickly. The population dwindled to approximately 20 birds in the 1980s, but thanks to the efforts of conservationists and biologists the number has increased to more than 300 birds today. For this reason the loss of one bird hurts the efforts of this species’ recovery, but it should also affect us. We’ve made every effort to recover the California condor so let’s protect it and help reduce problems like lead poisoning from our environment.

To learn more about how lead poisoning affects the condor, click here.

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4 Responses to “Lead Claims Another Condor”

  1. louie springer says:

    Does anyone know:

    Now that hunters have stopped using lead in a large swath of California, are the condors actually better? What’s the expected time for this lead prohibition to have any impact on the bird population? (I’d think that it would be quick since the rot time for contaminated carrion would have expired by the end of July but I can’t find any discussion on the web regarding this result.)

    Editor’s note: Biologists say it is much too early to see how the led ban will affect the California condors.

  2. James Christian says:

    The saddest thing about this story is that it was all foreseen by Noel Snyder in the 1980s and yet because of the scope and politics of the problem (lead shot) it was never sufficiently addressed, even among the biologist coordinating the conservation of the species.
    James Christian
    Karisia Walking Safaris

  3. Yadira Galindo says:

    Yes, the video is of No. 336 who died of lead poisoning. She was made famous by this video of her enjoying a meal surrounding by other birds.

  4. Becky Carroll says:

    What a shame. Condors are truly amazing birds; we were so blessed to see one fly over our heads at the Grand Canyon. Thank you for the video; very interesting to watch! Is that the same 36 that just died?

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